Freewrite: I used to love imagining what it would be like to fly. Peter Pan stories fascinated my sisters and I. We watched Cathy Rigby’s Peter Pan so many times I think we had it memorized. Lily used to dress up in a pink lacy nightgown like Wendy. Robyn wore her green tinkerbell swimsuit, and I would don my camo t-shirt and tights and lead the girls away to Neverland. From these old fantasies, I’ve written a piece of a story. I can tell it needs a lot of work, but I’m about to go out of town–so the work will have to wait…
I used to go out flying two or three nights a week, but after the dreaded day when reporters showed up on our front doorstep, I stayed in for a fortnight.
All my life, I had hidden this wonderful secret. Now they were getting close. Too close. And it scared me. What would happen if the world found out that I could fly?
So I stopped.
Sure, I floated around in the house a little. I dove down the stairs and drifted up to my bunk bed instead of climbing the ladder, but that’s nothing compared to a night’s excursion.
On Tuesday night I could bear it no longer. The ache to fly gripped me and I couldn’t repress it. I started to wonder why I even cared about reporters. So I slipped out to the back yard just after sunset and lifted myself into the wind.
Now reader, let me interrupt my story for a moment to correct any misconceptions you might have about flying. Scads of people think you wave your arms like Peter Pan, and pixie dust does the rest. But flying isn’t effortless. It takes energy and skill. When you fly you’ve got to maintain balance just like when you ride a bicycle. You’ve got to pay attention to the wind; flying against it is like riding up a hill. After a while, those things come to you naturally; the hard part is plain physical exertion.
Anyway, in the dark, cool of that October evening, I lifted up into the wind quickly, to avoid being seen. I had a habit of flying at high speeds so that in case someone ever did see me, they would catch only a blur, and not a gliding girl.
At first, I flew just above the top branches of the ghostly dead trees in the cow pasture behind our house. My hair streamed behind me, loosing itself from my braid to dance in the cool night air. The wind nipped at my cheeks and my nose, and my breath came in gasps. Still I flew—faster, faster, gliding, curving. I dipped low, close to the ground, to weave between the tree trunks. Then in one tremendous effort, I rocketed straight up. No low clouds covered me, but I didn’t care. I gloried in the rush of the air, the endless sea of sky, and the shimmer of the stars!
I flipped to float on my back, looking up, up into the depth of blue—the great cathedral of heaven—drinking in the beauty. It was addicting, intoxicating, but also exhausting. I labored to catch my breath in the still. For the first time, I noticed the cold and shivered. Though I wanted to linger, I knew I couldn’t maintain the height for much longer. I glanced down at my neighborhood of some six hundred homes; it looked dark and small. I sighed and dove—dove down, down, down back towards the cow pasture, and from there to my yard. I landed gently in the grass, but collapsed gasping onto the ground after my first step toward the door. After regaining some strength, I staggered into the house and went to bed.
“You were out again last night, weren’t you!” My sister Robyn accused me the next morning, “I know by your hair—it always looks terrible after you go out flying. What if someone saw you?”
“Then they saw me.”
“How do you know?”
“You know, I really don’t care anymore.”
“Why’d you go?”
“I had too, Robyn. I have to fly.”
“But what if someone sees you?” She persisted.
“Haven’t we already gone over this.”
“But the reporters! What would you tell them?”
Her tone provoked me, “What if I told them the truth. It’s not like it would hurt you.”
“You can’t tell them, Angela.”
“Why not?” I asked her. It was the same question I had asked myself.
“Ugh. Be logical, Angela. Why are you always arguing against me?” She asked as she walked away.
But the question echoed in my mind. Why not?