Life Above the Clouds By Poppy Phillips Year 8

Elitism is a word never spoken in the Caelum, never taught, never preached. It doesn’t feature in any documents, scriptures or even dictionaries. In the Caelum words like elite and injustice are somewhat disregarded of. It’s only now, after what I’ve been through, that I’m ashamed of the community I live in.

The Caelum changed the world – literally. Us Caelum dwellers know life up here in the sky to be normal, average you should say. Just as normal and delightful as the pleasantries down on Earth. The Caelum acts as an expansion for the overpopulated Earth below. No living person on the Caelum, or anywhere for that matter, has ever seen the Earth in its former state – one layer of polluted air doesn’t sound as exciting as the floating layer that drifts above the solid ground accompanied with the same below (just without the floating).

Of course, we visit the beaches and sights of the Earth on our holidays, but nobody ever goes where the others live. Every one of the Caelum wonders what living below is like, as our food, materials and water all come from the Solids; however, we never wish to leave our home.

The Caelum was originally a group of Earth volunteers who moved everything they had to a crazy science project in the sky. They came from each country and continent, bringing different people together. Our language evolved but has stayed English in principle but “the Caelum owns its tongue” as we are taught in Firsts. Firsts is the first year of learning, all the way up to Graduates in Sixteenths.

My life in the Caelum has been pretty normal. I was born in the year 4361, on the 14th day of April – to be born in the winter on Caelum is magical. When the snow and the cloud collides it makes a beautiful feather cushion, soft and warm. It covers the rich, deep sky in perfect white. The snow is a gift-wrap only spring will open, revealing the engrained beauty that lives safely below, protected these long months. As the sun rises each morning it ignites colours to vibrant hues.

My mother died when I was a mere 11-year-old boy. Her death silenced me eternally. I didn’t feel I could ever speak again, I couldn’t be happy whilst knowing she’s not here to enjoy the glory with me. I set no dreams, no aspirations, so there was nothing for her to miss out on.  Death wasn’t kind. It snatched where it could, taking people who were far too young, far too good. It didn’t pretend to care, it didn’t pretend to distinguish.

The hooded vale of death had not hung over the Caelum for a long time, never threatening the peace. Death had ripped away a part of me, the part of her that I most loved.

I would sit staring for hours. My face sunken and haunted, my mind cold and empty.

Times haven’t changed much, I’ve always had a longing to make mum proud but the fear of missing out kept me back. Held me in. Restricted me.

My life carried on, through school I only had one friend. Maia Abbot. I loved her as if she was the last of my kind. It was as if she spoke the same language as I, yet no one else is able to understand. To be around her was like finally not being alone – my whole life I’d been isolated, in a windowless room, in a doorless room… and then suddenly she walked in through a door she miraculously created. A window she carved.

 

I went off to Further Education, leaving Maia behind in East Caelum. When I woke up, I could hear my mum yelling at me for sleeping in. But then the reality took over my dreams. Mum wasn’t there. It hit like a stab in the stomach. All I could do was take it in.

My roommate would greet me with a grin in the kitchen. My dishes would be still in the washer. They would have been there for so long because no one had told me to turn it on.

I had to realise that you weren’t doing your dishes because you’ll lose your access to Skifi for an entire day. It was doing it because you won’t have anything to eat from otherwise.

Waking up early was not about pleasing mum up in the stars and giving her a reason to let you go out. It’s about running errands that your life literally depends on.

Learning things like this was never something I took easily, never something I understood until I reached the stage I had to be brave and take responsibilities.

Whilst in my FE, I got a job as Supplies guard. I could finally explore Earth, well it’s potatoes maybe. I scanned them to make sure no one was smuggling things into the Caelum.

 

I left my Further Education with a Signature of Honor in Finance. I met up with Maia again and we got married.

Another thing I realised is that marriage isn’t a ring worn or a paper signed. It is not something endured but savoured. It is the union of two hearts beating as one, each that would sacrifice for the other’s happiness and wellbeing.

My first full time job was at the Caelum Government as an assistant Treasury representative. Before the day has started for the masses I am already in my kitchen, fully dressed and ready to go. Outside it is as black as night, only by the clock can I tell the difference between the time to sleep and the time to rise. The dawn will come as I walk to the offices, lighting my way first in monochrome and then with subtle hues of colour.

 

I later upgraded to a worker in the Treasury when I was 32, I never made the Head of Treasury but I was happy. I met a man called Zachhary Edridge. He was an extremely tall man, his hair fading but always immaculate. Zach was married to Madison, she was a stay at home mum to their 2 children.

Zach was the only friend I’d ever had, apart from Maia, he taught me to reach out and socialise. It didn’t work but he was the first who tried, I appreciated that.

I had never grown to like Madison Eldridge, there was always something about her that I didn’t like. She always had excuses for not showing up to various things. Her best friend, a Malone I believe, seemed to be behind her absence.

I kept my eye on Madison and the mysterious Malone for a while longer, I eventually gave up but they do reappear in my future.

 

I suppose the rest of my life is quite average, 2 children, an office job. Nothing adventurous had happened to me, not until I was 47 years old. 47 years of a lonely life hadn’t been much fun. But, they say life has its ways of repeating on you. It turns out Madison Eldridge and her Malone friend were the people who changed my life.

Added the adventure.

***

It was the 35th day of November. It all started when I was sleeping – everything began as a normal night. I put Franny and Gabe to bed at 7 AT (Ante Tenebris); at 9:30 I got dressed for bed whilst Maia made her evening hot cocoa; At 10:00 after all gadgets were switched off, food put away and clothes folded nicely, me and Maia turned in for bed. Completely normal. Until 1 PT (Post Tenebris).

I suppose it’s now the 36th, being 1:00.

They didn’t say much. It was as simple as “Get up, Mr Westfall, you’re under arrest by accounts of the High Court of Caelum.” As you could imagine, I was highly dazed so followed suit. It’s only when I awakened in a cell that I questioned what I had been accused of.

 

To be surrounded by 4 white walls, with nothing else to stare at could of driven a sane man mad. I noticed every scratch in the brick, watched the layers peel away, along with my sanity.The beds were a plank of wood on legs, cushions seemed a luxury and 3 hours in this box made me realise how amazing toilet paper is. It was either suffocatingly quiet, or pierced with screams of tortured inmates.

To see human life after 3 hours of myself felt like heaven. Being alone is something I was so used to as a child, but forced loneliness is a different subject altogether. Unfortunately, the human life was a guard. Not Maia or Gabe or anyone who could restore my conscience.

 

A door creaked, the locking mechanism clicking almost tormenting me of freedom. There in its archway stood Mrs Madison Eldridge.

“Madison! Madison, what is going on?” I called out to her. She spared me a short grimace before saying loudly to the police officer.

“That’s him, constable, he’s the one who murdered my Zachary!” She almost seemed to spit at me from across the room.

 

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