Friday, February 10, 2006

What's behind the silver lining - A story for all ages

Once upon a time – and all good stories start this way, so you can really sit back comfortably, because you know it’s going to be good – anyway, as I was saying, once upon a time it was a bright sunny day and the world looked fresh and new, but in spite of this there were still lots of clouds in the sky.

This was because there was about to be a big cloud get-together. They do this now and again, clouds. They like to join up and form a great big heap with all the little clouds at the top and all the big clouds at the bottom.

Then all the clouds underneath clap their hands and bang and shout so that it sounds a bit like a huge thunderstorm – which of course, it is - and a good time is had by all. Sometimes, they get so excited, these clouds, that they get all hot, and then some of them melt a bit, which is why we think it’s raining when there’s a thunderstorm – which, of course, it is.

The reasons the clouds have these get-togethers are many, and one of their favourite excuses is when they have cloud christenings.

Now the traditional present to give a baby cloud is a gift wrapped silver hanky. Every cloud that was ever born is given one.

In the years and centuries before this story, these silver hankies were always kept in a safe place and never taken out except at the end of especially great big get-togethers, when all the clouds would sit in the sun and mop their heads with their silver hankies to cool down after all the fun.

On this day, it was going to be one of the biggest get-togethers of all, and the first that little Cleo Cloud had ever been to. She had her silver hanky tucked safely in her pocket, and was floating along to the get-together with her best friend Cassie.

Neither of them really knew what to expect but they did know that it was the most important party of the year, because it was the day when everyone knew that summer was over, and it was called the Autumn Stampede.

All the clouds had to be sure to make enough wind and noise at this party to remind the sleepy old leaves that it was time to fall off the trees, so they had to work quite hard as well as have lots of fun.

Anyway, Cleo and Cassie wanted to make sure they stayed together because their Mums and Dads would be busy with their jobs as chief thunder clappers, and they didn’t want to get lost in the heap.

Everyone was milling around when they arrived, trying to find their place, so there was already quite a bit of wind. Cleo and Cassie got blown around a bit as they climbed up the other clouds to their positions at the top.

Then, a terrible thing happened. Wicked Wilma, a big young cloud who was famous for stirring things up, decided to go into a spin just as everyone was about to start clapping.

Wilma whirled round and round, faster and faster until she was going so fast that she was dragging all the other clouds with her, rather like a small Tornado. Cleo and Cassie screamed and tried to hold on to each other, but in the end, they couldn’t manage it and Cleo was thrown out into the air as she let go of Cassie’s coat tail.

Suddenly, poor little Cleo found herself alone. There she was in the big blue sky without her friend or her Mummy and Daddy. She floated around sadly, looking for another friendly cloud, but the only ones she met were dark miserable things with grey faces and heavy crinkly frowns.

After a while, she began to feel grey and heavy herself, and a curious lump formed in her throat and a pricking started behind her eyes. She realised at last that she was going to cry! This was terrible! She’d never cried before and she knew it really wouldn’t be good for her. She’d get thin and pale if she cried, and might disappear altogether!

Then just before the first teardrops rolled off her eyelids, she remembered her silver hanky. If she took it out of her pocket and put it around her, she could catch the drips before they fell and push them back in again. What a wonderful idea!

As she shook out her hanky and held it around her back, she was already feeling happier and not like crying at all. Even the sun came out of hiding and smiled at her, and all of a sudden the world didn’t look so bad, and her silver hanky sparkled behind her, making her look very pretty indeed.

When her Mum and Dad and Cassie found her later in the day, they were very surprised to find a cheerful looking Cleo, still wearing her silver hanky like a big shiny shawl, and floating merrily around the sky..

What’s more, they saw that all the other clouds around her were doing the same thing.

“Well, well, well”, said Daddy cloud “It seems that Cleo and all these other clouds have grown silver linings.”

“Yes, dear” said Mummy Cloud “But if that’s what makes everyone so cheerful, then I think we’d better do the same”, and with that, she took out her own silver hanky and with a smile, draped it over herself before going to give little Cleo a big cloudy cuddle.

And from that day to this, people have remembered the story of little Cleo Cloud. So, when life looks rather sad, they might tell you that ’every cloud has a silver lining’, meaning that you can ALWAYS get something good out of a bad situation