Free Short Story: “Head in the Clouds”



“Yes, hon?”

“Why do planes crash?”

“I don’t know, babe. I…I don’t know.”

“Why don’t they just land before it ‘splodes?”

“I…because they can’t, I guess. They don’t have time to make it to the ground.”

“I know that. But why can’t they land on the clouds?”

“Oh. Be…Because…”

“Or just let all the passengers off onto the clouds so they can wait to be picked up by another plane?”


“Maybe that’s what happened to Mommy’s plane.”


“I saw the plane on the news.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“It was on fire and broken up in itty-bitty pieces.”

“Yes. Yes…it was.”

“Don’t be sad, Dad.”

“I’m not, hon. I’m okay.”

“You’re crying.”

“I guess I am. I’m tired is all.”

“I saw the plane, Daddy, but you know what? I didn’t see Mommy on the TV. I saw the plane but she wasn’t there. Nobody was there!”

“I know, but baby, you—”

“I bet the plane stopped to let them off on the clouds, and she’s waiting up there right now for a ride home. Isn’t that what you think Daddy?”

“Yeah. Yeah it is. You need to lie down and get some sleep now baby. Been a rough few—”

“Can we go pick her up?”

“I don’t think we can.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t…let’s just talk about this in the morning, okay?”

“You can fly, Daddy, can’t you? Rachel told me at school that Daddies can fly if they want to. She said when her little brother ran out in front of a car her Daddy screamed and turned and flew and saved her little brother. I guess Moms can’t though or she’d just be able to fly down from the cloud all by herself, wouldn’t she?”

“I can’t fly, honey. I wish I could.”

“Do, then!”


“Make a wish and I’ll bet you can! You can go collect Mommy.”


“I bet it’s cold up there.”

“In the clouds?”

“Uh-huh. But at least it’s nice and fluffy and soft.”

“I bet it is. Come on now, lie down and let me tuck you in.”

“I won’t be able to sleep.”

“Sure you will. You’re tired.”

“I won’t. I’m too excited now.”


“Because you’re going to make a wish and fly and get Mommy back.”

“I suppose I’ll have to give it a shot, but what if I can’t?”

“You’re crying again. If it’s because you’re worried about leaving me here alone while you go get Mommy, you don’t have to. I’ll stay here in bed and look out the window. I promise I won’t get up until I see you coming back. I do that sometimes anyway.”

“Do what?”

“Lie here looking out the window at the clouds. Those are the days when you have to call me for breakfast a few times, because I don’t want to stop watching them. Then you come in and tickle me and I have to get up.”

“I didn’t know that’s what you were doing.”

“You’re smiling.”

“Because I love you, Sarah. I don’t know what I would do without you. And your mother loves you.”

“I know. She told me about the clouds. That’s why I watch them.”

“What did she tell you?”

“That things are different up there. That you can walk on the clouds. That there are bunches of people up there who have fallen from space, or out of planes, or who jumped too high and got stuck. That’s why I don’t use Rachel’s trampoline. She calls me a chicken, but I’m really not. I just don’t want to get my head stuck in the clouds. Mommy said that’s what it means when someone says someone else has their head in the clouds. Means they jumped too high once—maybe on a trampoline—and because their heads poked through, they’re never the same after that. They’re a bit silly.”

“Is that what she said?”

“Yeah. So, I guess because it’s not the same up there, Mommy shouldn’t be up there too long. Will you go get her while I’m sleeping?”

“What if I can’t fly? What if it doesn’t work?”

“It will. Wish hard, Daddy.”

“Okay, babe. I’ll wish as hard as I can, but if it doesn’t work, you think maybe Mommy’ll might be happy up there?”

“Why would she want to stay up there when we’re down here?”

“Maybe so she can always watch over us wherever we go. Maybe…so she can help the other people who have fallen out of space and airplanes and…”

“I guess. But you should go make sure she’s okay anyway.”

“Okay baby, I will, and I’ll tell her you miss her.”


“With all my heart. Now you lie down and get some sleep. It’s getting late and you want me to be able to see my way up there don’t you?”


“I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Okay. Daddy?”

“Yes, hon?”

“Don’t get stuck up there okay?”

“I won’t.”


“I swear.”

“Okay. Goodnight.”









(c) copyright 2007 by Kealan Patrick Burke. “Head in the Clouds” originally appeared on the Subterranean Press website. Reprinted in the collection Theater Macabre (2011).

All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction permitted.



12 thoughts on “Free Short Story: “Head in the Clouds”

  1. Pingback: Free Short Story: “Head in the Clouds” | JC Brennan Books

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