This alleyway had its own cloud lingering above it. Light pollution and the height of the buildings made it hard to distinguish at night but Kamiya new it was there, he was absolutely certain it was floating just for him. He curled in on himself, laying on his side on the cement ground, for something to do or because it was cold he couldn’t tell. His jacket rode up when he moved, exposing his lower back to the world where baggy jeans failed to keep his modesty in tact, not that it was really there in the first place.
His eyes squeezed shut as a small breeze waved past him, also just for him he knew. He felt selfish at keeping all the weather to himself, but at least it wasn’t out bothering people with it’s wind and blocking the moonlight like his cloud. An arm’s length from his head there sat his cellphone, blue glow from the small display being the only source of light for a mile. It buzzed once, and he grunted at it so it knew he wasn’t ignoring it but was still busy contemplating more important things. It buzzed a second time.
Kamiya shifted his body forward with great effort and grabbed the phone. He didn’t bother navigating to his inbox, instead he went straight to his contacts and began a call. It rang three times before the line was picked up. Rude, he thought, his cloud friend would never be so slow at answering him.
“Moshi moshi,” said Tokunaga’s tinny voice.
“Where are you?” Kamiya asked.
“At home. What are you doing? Are you out?”
“Go find a window.”
“Because I said so, go to a window. Look outside and tell me what you see.” Kamiya could hear an exhalation of breath, and shuffling, the friction of fabric, plastic being tapped on, the sound a window makes when it’s being slid open.
“I’m here,” Tokunaga said.
“Why is your breathing so loud?” Kamiya shouted, he pressed the phone closer to his cheek, “was that so difficult? Tell me what you’re looking at.”
“There’s... Let’s see, there’s my balcony, and some overgrown weeds, and... my neighbours’ windows are mostly dark. I left some laundry hanging which I’m going to take down when we’re done. It’s hard to tell, but it looks a little bit overcast, I can’t really make out any stars, but then... huh, I’ve never really noticed that before.”
“What? Never noticed what?”
“That there aren’t any stars, it’s just black.”
Kamiya rolled onto his back, looking directly up at his cloud. He smiled at it, all squinty-eyed, and then he pulled a long sad face, exaggerated. “You’re right,” he said, “I can’t see anything, either.”
“I hope it doesn’t rain, or if it does that it doesn’t last long.”
“Why not? Rain is good for you, it’s the heavens’ way of saying it could all be worse. Did you know that? It means the sky is reaching out to you and reminding you that the next time you feel like everything is shit, you can say at least it’s not raining. It has to happen or else you couldn’t do that.”
“But doesn’t that mean if everything is shit, it’s the worst when it’s raining? I can still wish for it not to happen, while understanding that it’s inevitable.”
“No, see? When you wish for it not to be happening, you’re wasting your breath. It’s a reminder—“
“Right, you said that. At least it’s not raining. But—“
“It’s a reminder, also, that you should be more like it. Rain comes and it falls off the surfaces of things, and fills up containers, and washes away into gutters. It’s a life cycle, at least it’s not raining, but always you are rain.”
“Kamiya-san,” Tokunaga’s breath was shuddery through the phone speaker, he spoke slowly. “Why are you so serious all of a sudden?” The echo of awkward laughter rang through the air.
“I made a new friend!” Kamiya said, “can you guess who? He’s high up, and long, and dark. Very big, but weighs almost nothing to my surprise. Can you guess?”
“No,” Tokunaga said.
“Ahh, you don’t get it.” Kamiya sighed, “I was out tonight, earlier, and I took a piss behind the place I was drinking because there was a line for the toilets all the way to my table at the back. So, I went outside and I noticed my piss when it hit the ground went into the gutter and I was thinking about all this. And now I’m outside still, waiting on my friends, see, they don’t smoke, and I was looking up and I thought it might be overcast but I couldn’t tell.”
“And so you made this great philosophical connection and had to tell me because I’d texted you,” Tokunaga summarized.
“Yes, that’s exactly it.”
“Is... your friend. Is your new friend a cloud?”