An hour or so ago, I was sitting in my desk, gazing out of the attic window, when I noticed a very strange thing in the sky. I should have been writing, of course, head down, fingertips dancing back and forth across the keyboard, mind consumed with thoughts of a story yet to be told, but I had already put in a pretty decent morning's work and, I have to admit, I was feeling good about myself.
My window-gazing was part of what I felt was a well-earned mini-break, and I was luxuriating in one of those oh-so-comfortable brain-freeze moments that mottle only the very best days, when my eyes happened upon it.
It's just a cloud, I told myself, but in my suddenly racing heart I knew that it was not just a cloud.
It was me. What I mean is, it was a cloud carved into the exact shape of my head in profile. Seriously. I stared at it and tried my best to laugh, but there was nothing funny about it. This cloud had the shape of my head just right, and it had the details of my nose, my chin, everything. I know my profile well, or as well as anyone can ever really know their own profile, and I had no doubt in my mind that this was me.
I can't say exactly how long I sat there staring at this miraculous freak of nature hovering above me like some kind of spun-sugar balloon, but it must have been at least a minute or so. Cloud formations aren't permanent, but for the greater part of that minute the image still kept up the resemblance, even as some stata gust nipped and tucked, worked on skimming my nose and adjusting my overbite, on rounding my chin and taking off a little excess flab here and there, until just prior to the moment of total breakup, I had become a cloud-rendition of a made-over Hollywood movie star. I was Johnny Depp or Harrison Ford or Cary Grant, and then, just like that, I was gone, torn asunder by a single knowing breeze.
No one believes me. Just like nobody believed me when I said I saw Elvis buying a trolley full of Clonakilty black pudding in Tesco's a couple of years ago. It seems that I make a habit of missing the Kodak Moments. The camera battery is always flat when most needed, and the mobile phone in my pocket is of a model so prehistoric that it can barely comprehend the concept of texting. To be honest, though, I am past caring what people think. I know what I saw, and that's all that matters. I don't need the reassurance of a photograph.
Thinking about it, I suppose there are far worse ways of spending a minute of my day. Life as a cloud probably wouldn't be so bad. I will admit, though, that I'm troubled by the fact that I saw this only because I happened to have been in exactly the right place and at exactly the right time. I could have been doing any of a hundred other things at that precise moment, but I wasn't. I was at my attic window, gazing upwards. I suppose I just got lucky.
Still, this whole business does beg an important question: how many other people every day drift by as clouds in the sky and are never even noticed? That's a little worrying, isn't it?