• Casey Dunn

Portrait Writing: The Cloud

A short story inspired by the painting The Cloud by Leon Spilliaert

He wasn’t sure when Heather left. He had fallen asleep and dreamed of orchids. They lined the old place’s kitchen roost. KC could never understand how Beth kept them alive. When she left two of the five died immediately. They had either been overwatered or under watered or both. He was cancer for plants. A small chuckle escaped his lips as he thought back to hurriedly buying two new orchids from the nearest flower shop. The owner was vague in his memory. Was his name David? Maybe. He was plump and happy and had only a few orchids left at the time. KC set the orchids in the same exact positions as the previous two. They had different pots, so the game was going to be up as soon as Beth walked through the door. Hopefully that would be soon. He placed the baby cactus beside the orchids just before the dream cut out.


He looked around. There were a few footsteps trailing off. They had the Converse imprint that had symbolized his sister during the early years. He watched the darkness. Shadows flickered and danced, but it seemed that no one was stepping forward. KC shivered, the blood loss left him achy and cold. More blood leaked from the wound with every breath. There was something annoying in its persistence.

Church bells drifted through the air. The images trailed a little after. The song was reminiscent, but he couldn’t place where he knew it from. Several men stood around him. Their hands were outstretched. Palms resting on his shoulders and head. They whispered a distorted prayer. The words couldn’t seem to break through the fog of the past. They all wore baggy suits. KC had noticed that at the time. Churchgoers rarely cared to truly dress well for God. He was ten at the time. A little older than most when they’re baptized. His mother wasn’t there. She wasn’t particularly religious. It was his Grandma who had set the whole thing up. She was beaming. A tear fell to the dirt. She had the best smile. The dream drifted to his seventh birthday. She had surprised him at daycare with a dragon cake. She sang that old tune while he plowed into the tail of the dragon. It was all icing. That made him cringe. Good god, how the fuck did I make it as a kid?


The colors floated into one another as the visions escaped him. Washed away by the Wyoming night air. She was out there, he knew she was. Waiting for him. But he wasn’t ready. He looked back at the earth where his sister’s footsteps had been. A little blood fused with the teardrop. Sinking into the dirt below. Feeding the soil.

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