15.

He hadn’t expected there to be so many kites.

They filled the sky in every direction, snapping and twisting the air into something far too simple to fathom.  And his heart ran ragged in his chest now, like it had on that day.

 14.

The day his father had shown him how to run.  ‘Never look back,’ he had said, cradling the boy’s face in his hands, ‘the kite already knows what to do.’

 13.

But he had looked back.  And he had seen with his own eyes how the grotesque worm had trailed behind him on the orphaned earth, catching on every rough stone and bitter blade of grass when all it desired was the sky.  And it wasn’t what he wanted.

 12.

The day his father had shown him how to run.  The kite broke from his hands like a bird, soaring into the air as if it couldn’t do anything else, ‘Never look back,’ his father said, the wind snatching at his words, ‘the kite already knows what to do.’

 11.

But he had looked back.  And he had seen with his own eyes how the fragile frame of wood and cloth bumped and battered its way over the uneven ground.  As much like a bird as he was.  And it wasn’t what he wanted.

The day his father had shown him how to run.  His coat billowing between them like a grey fog, ‘Never look back,’ he said, breathing heavily, ‘the kite already knows what to do.’

 10 seconds left to live.

But he had looked back.  And he had seen how the insipid worm had jumped for the fallen branch, catching and knotting itself around the strength of the wood when it had none of its own.  And it wasn’t what he wanted.

 The day his father had shown him how to run.  Slower this time, the kite more reluctant to dance for them, ‘Never look back,’ he said, struggling to find the words, ‘the kite already knows what to do.’


8.

But he had looked back.  And he had seen with his own eyes how his father bent double with the effort of running to keep up with him, grunting as he assembled a strength that was harder to find with each breath.

The day his father had shown him how to run.  The kite hit twice, hammering into the ground before it finally took flight, ‘Never look back,’ he said, looking deep into the boy’s eyes as if it would make a difference, ‘the kite already knows what to do.’

7.

That first flight, after so many falls and so many failures, made so much sweeter because of them.  His smile had been brighter than the sun.  That day.

6.

‘You see now,’ his father had said, slipping down onto the earth, his chest rising and falling with the kite, ‘you see now what it is to be the kite.’

And he saw.  He saw the rage, he saw the torment and he saw the fury of the kite.  And he saw the dragon as it crouched low on the horizon, its lips drawn with the blood fire of the western sun.

5.

The storm had come so suddenly, and the kite had trembled with the air as thunder sounded out the shape of its ruin.

His father had called for him to pull the kite home, and the fear that shaped his words had echoed with the gathering darkness.  But the boy hadn’t pulled the kite home. He had taken the small, red handled scissors from his pocket and cut the string, watching as the kite folded itself into the air and became the air.

And he had smiled as the storm came and took the kite.

 4.

And the storm drew fury like a sword, splintering the day into shards of sour light that cast the fires of hell across the same heavens that had roared out its coming.  And it sliced, again and again at the dragon, driven by a wrath that knew nothing of what had been or what was to come.  Again and again, until blood ran slick over the acrid skies like oil on glass.  But even as the air cleared and the clouds settled, the beast rose up again, bloated with the same destruction that should have been its ending.

 3.

The day his father had shown him how to run.  ‘You see what it is to be the kite,’ he had whispered, ‘but still you do not understand.’

And the kite had roared out its freedom cry then, louder even than the storm, clawing for the same absent sun that had once blinded it.  But the climb was too harsh and as the kite broke that one last time on the air, the fall came.  And with it came the price.  Twisting and distorting all the pieces that had made it a kite into something that wasn’t a kite anymore.

The kite they had built together.  The kite he had kept safe underneath his bedroom window, propped up so it would be the first thing he saw and the last thing he saw.  The kite that had tugged at him like a puppy every day.  The kite he had held across his lap as they drove to the top of the hill that looked out over the cement factory.

The kite that had been lost that day in the eclipse of dark fury that had turned all the colours of his mother’s dress into black hate.

2.

Delicate spindles of pale wood, bought from the market on a Saturday afternoon while the football was on.  Measured lines, drawn with a wooden ruler and the plastic protractor from his pencil case.  A thousand forgotten summer days, reconstructed in geometric shapes that spread out over the table in wings of bright fabric.  Little bits of pale string cut from a neatly spiralled ball into perfect lengths and tied up in knots with nautical names.  The orange handle that looked like it didn’t belong, wound around and around the neck in neat circles.  Glue in a bottle with a plastic stick.  Bows of yellow ribbon tied into the tail.

And that one last bow.  Made out of the scraps.  Made to look more beautiful than all of the others because it was made for his mother… and she still wore in… her hair… every Saturday.

The memory that lay so soft in his mind turned in his gut like someone was wringing him out.

Today was Saturday.

They say that once milk has turned to yoghurt, nothing on this earth can turn it back.

 1 second left to live.

He hadn’t expected there to be so many kites.

They filled the sky in every direction, snapping and twisting the air into something far too simple to fathom.  And his heart ran ragged in his chest now, like it had on that day.

The End.

There was no sound as the death that he had carried with him broke free.

His father held his face like he was a child again, catching tears with fingers that were always his own, ‘Don’t look back,’ he said softly, tilting his head with the words, ‘when you look back you see only the struggle, and when you look back you forget that the kite is not the sky.’

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14 thoughts on “Kites

  1. Wow. I’m not sure where to begin. I love the allegorical nature, the rich symbols (dragon, blood) and the very Book of Revelations feel. The section between 4 and 3 slayed me — such interesting descriptions. I had a hard time where 9 should be — I feel like I’m missing why it’s not there — but on second reading just let it go and kept going. Stunning, dreamlike, and a repeat read for sure.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh man, thank you for such a beautiful return, Nancy. There is a reason 9 is missing, I sometimes wonder if I should add a postscript, but symbolism can be subjective, it’s a tricky path.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. OK a complete guess now re missing number. The story changes slightly from the kite to the father so I’m guessing it leads you to imagine or ponder on the change ??
    Probably completely wrong but loved the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Not totally wrong at all, mate. Your reading of this is indeed close to what was in my head. This story marks a transformation, and ultimately a return.
    9 is significant because in our numerical system, the sum is always equal to the product.

    Like

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