The sky is a clear blue, and the sun feels warm against my shapeless body. I feel my highest peaks and lowest folds twist and turn with the wind — it tickles. I am pregnant with precipitation, but I know to hold it in, at least for right now. I wouldn’t want to rain on anyone’s parade.
Mother floats imposing in the distance. She carries the weight of the world on her back, and I am in awe of her strength. A castle shoots up from just beneath her surface, and none of us in the community are quite sure how it came to be. We’ve simply used it as a reason to justify following her advice. She must have gotten something right, to have been chosen for such an amicable deed.
I’m not quite sure who lives in the castle on Mother’s back. At times I witness a small creature’s foot peak out one of the many disjointed windows and wiggle its toes. I long to feel something other than the rain I collect within my body. I glide across the expanse to rest at my mother’s side so I can speak with her.
“Mother, will there be a day when a castle sits on my back?”
The sound of her chuckle is thunderous and demeaning, though I’m sure that isn’t her intent. “Maybe someday, little one, but you know how it is with these things.”
“No, I’m not sure I do,” I whisper as I feel a small creature careen through the lowest reaches of my body. It is a bird, and this is a feeling we all experience. A set of wings purposefully propelling itself through our bodies to get from one place to the next. It doesn’t seem as royal or rare as holding a castle or feeling a person’s toes revel in you. I pout.
“What is your rush for responsibility, child? You only formed a few days ago.”
Days. I’m not quite sure what she even means by that. A unit of time, I think. Something the rain in my stomach understands better than I do. It says that it will release itself from me tomorrow.
“I just want to know if there is more to life than resting shapelessly in the sky, Mother.”
She refuses to answer and chooses instead to leave our conversation at that. She regards me as she tends to the questions of my brothers and sisters, and I glide away so that I can let my thoughts stew in private.
“We know a way for you to have it all,” says a rumbling from the rain in my tummy. It is a whisper at first, but if I focus in on it, it booms. “We were once chained to the sky as you are.”
“How? What do you mean?”
“Tomorrow at high noon. Let go of yourself. Join us.”
I feel an unrest. I’m not sure if it is simply from my own excitement, or from the stirrings within me. Mother told me to expect this after I was born. She warned of rain, of the possibility of becoming a storm cloud if I let my emotions get the better of me. If there was a mirror around, I would see the dark tones emerging along the edges of my pillowy white prison.
After what feels like an eternity of watching Mother and pondering the possibility of the structure on her back, the rain reacts. “Breathe, young one. You will leave a part of yourself behind.”
I follow their instructions and, instead of the stability of my flowing body, I’m trapped inside a single droplet from my stomach. And I’m not alone. The voice that beckoned me before instructs me, “We are careening headfirst toward the ground.”
I know immediately it isn’t lying. The regular patchwork of checkered landscape beneath my community has now become one giant gray slab. We fall past giant concrete protrusions that reach into the sky, almost as if they’re reaching for us. Calling to the castle my mother protects. Much of the water that originally fell with us is caught up in their unforgiving grasps.
“You can feel the freedom your mother feels if you’re patient. Landing might hurt, but soon you’ll understand why this is worth it.”
And it isn’t wrong. The moment of impact is like nothing I’ve ever felt. It’s simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating and, in a few seconds, we are joined by even more of the liquid that once lived inside me. We huddle together in a puddle. Some of the droplets tell me we’re in a city, while still others tell me that it doesn’t matter. I wonder if Mother has ever been here, this far away from home, and I know in this moment I’ll never be able to ask her.
I can’t see her from where we lie. It is dark, and hard to breathe. There are walls around us, and the puddle feels crowded even though it should. I panic, but there is nowhere to go.
But the waiting doesn’t take long. The humidity in the air brings us close to swelling. We swell up from the puddle and reform into a thick marshmallow mist. Our body feels similar to how my own did, but far more constricting. We are a blanket over the ground upon which creatures of all shapes skitter and crawl.
But, in this one moment, I know what my stomach was trying to tell me before we fell. Because the small toes my mother feels are nothing compared to this. The lack of control over one’s physical form as other, more tangible beings make their way blindly through you is euphoric. And we wouldn’t change it for the world.
The sun rises, and though its rays don’t reach the ground where we rest, and our consciousness is nothing more than condensation on the side of a building — we are content.