Editorâ€™s Note: â€œCracks in the Cloudsâ€ is a piece of creative non-fiction. All of the events in the story are true. This is the final part of a nine-part series that ran weekly in the Collegianâ€™s Verve section.
â€œThey put their fingers over us. We both lay back down on our backs. I wanted to scream. But they took the sound right out of us.
We were frozen. It was like their minds controlled us.
We did everything that they wanted us to do. They looked like they were smiling at us.
They seemed kind. They held their fingers over us for a short while when a very obvious, large, magnificent drop of water fell onto our foreheads. We remember nothing after that. Nothing,â€ Joan said.
â€œIt wasnâ€™t a dream,â€ Mary said.
â€œThey took us somewhere, Lucas! We canâ€™t stay here any longer. Our house is for sale. We are moving to Iowa to be closer to our friends from college.â€ Sitting in the dirt she looked at the sky through her teary eyes.
The wind swept back and forth through the garden. I looked around for something to say but I couldnâ€™t find anything. I sat back down in the blue chair.
I imagined gray men. Tall, with fingers like antennas prodding at their bodies, testing and poking.
I could see in their eyes it was true. They asked me for help. They knew I believed them.
I hugged them that night. Their eyes were both wet. I understood why they were leaving. Why they were running.
I wanted to be mad. They drove me home that night. They sensed my fear. I sensed theirs.
It hung in the air, thicker than the dust off the roads. It was our last goodbye.
Three days later I ran past yellow flowers and deer poop. I ran past the burned rocks we had used to set fireworks on the year before. I ran past the yucca plant where I had buried my action figure Peter Pan months before.
But the house was empty. They had packed up and left. What was to say more encounters werenâ€™t to follow them?Â
I kicked the dirt. I turned to the old U.S. Cavalry building on the property next to the driveway and fallen leaves.
It looked just as dark and forgotten as the house in front of me. Its windows were broken.
I walked toward it. I wanted to think it was the ghosts in this Cavalry building that stormed Joan and Maryâ€™s house that night, but deep inside I knew they werenâ€™t to blame.
I stood in front of the locked door of the Cavalry building. I stared at myself through the broken glass.Â Joan and Mary had run. Joan and Mary had held on for as long as they could.
Joan and Mary had been here once, just like the Indians, just like the Indians had. Â Â
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I walked home from the bus stop from then on. Alone, I wandered the dirt roads for three miles every day. I thought of them on my walks.
When my backpack got heavy I thought of them. I wonder if it followed them to Iowa, to the lonely cornfields and small towns where men sleep with Bibles on their night stands.
Deep inside I knew they would never run completely away.
There are eyes in the sky. Men on top of the clouds stand over us. Watching us and learning from us. I walked the dusty roads for five more years after they left. I kept my eyes on the tire tracks in the gravel road, scared of the cracks in the clouds.
Staff writer Lucas Dean FiÅ¡er can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.