The short story “The Meaning of Clouds” by Natalie Cox takes place in a town in England, in July (l. 2). The story begins at “9 on a Tuesday morning” (l. 30). Mags can guess that it is around 9 even without checking a watch, due to “the echo of commuter anxiety” (l. 23) in her brain, caused by years of job-related routine.

The story starts out in a peaceful setting, with Bella and Mags relaxing on a blanket under the “brightness of the young July sun” (l.2). Mags’ phone has died, which strengthens the impression of an idyllic setting, free from the constraints of time and responsibilities. The atmosphere is lazy and calm, like on a ...

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