Once there was a little cloud who had forgotten how to fly.
It happened one day, started actually, a long time ago when the cloud realized something. She had always wanted to be a great big hurricane, or at least a rather large thunderstorm, but one day she looked around and saw that she WAS NOT. She was just a cloud. A very ordinary little puffy white cloud that hadn’t even made it rain very much.
So she sulked.
What’s the use? She thought, and sank slowly down to the ground where she became a soft white fog rolling along through the grass.
The little cloud missed flying. It had been her favorite thing to do, to zoom through the air and see all the land below. Green trees, shining rivers, cities and towns and farms in a strange crystalline patchwork across the earth. But it turned out that not flying was good too. Flying took a lot of work, and there were plenty of things for the cloud to do near the ground. She could roll in from the sea and bring cool droplets of moisture to thirsty plants in a desert that never felt rain. She could tangle around the heather on the highlands and obscure the sound of bagpipes from a distant bluff. But it wasn’t quite the same as flying.
There were plenty of other clouds that didn’t fly. They all seemed to be content. The little cloud missed her friends up in the sky, and she watched them with admiration as a few of them even became mighty storms. It wasn’t going to happen to me, she would sigh, and continued to creep along the ground.
One foggy morning in an empty field the cloud met a kite. "What are you doing here on the ground," the cloud asked.
"Waiting for the fog to clear so I can fly," said the kite.
"I used to fly," said the cloud, "but not any more. I miss it. I hope you have fun," said the cloud.
"Why don’t you fly anymore?" Asked the kite.
"It’s no use," said the cloud. "And it’s an awful lot of work. There’s plenty of foggy things to do instead. But since I’m in your way I’ll roll down into that valley over there and wait to evaporate in the sun for the day."
"Wait," said the kite. "If you really miss flying, then you shouldn’t be a fog. You should fly. It’s the best."
"I know," said the cloud, "but I think I’ve forgotten how. If I try flying now I’ll do a terrible job of it, and all the other clouds will laugh at me."
"How about this," said the kite. "You get up very early in the morning, before the sun comes up, and just try to fly a little. Just for a few minutes. Can you do that?"
The cloud thought about it for a minute. "It would be hard," she said, "but yes, I think I could try."
All that day the little cloud thought about flying. She tried to remember what it was like to soar through the sky, making pillowy shapes in the blue. It made her smile.
That night she found she was so excited she could hardly sleep. She woke up again and again, and checked the shiny full moon to see how close it was to the horizon. Not yet, she would tell herself, and sink back to sleep along the cool, flat surface of the river where she was shifting in misty tendrils among the reeds.
Finally the first pink of dawn colored the sky, and the little cloud lifted herself from the river bed. She rolled into the air, and tried to rise. It was hard at first, but not as hard as she had thought. Pretty soon the green hills were sailing underneath her, trees still black in the grey pre-dawn light. She smiled and drifted along with the wind, happy and free, but then as the sun came up she drifted back down to the earth.
It hadn’t been for very long, but she flew! And tomorrow she would do it again.