Friday, May 14, 2010
A Friday flash fiction by J.M. Rich
Milo dreamed of flying.
Not the conventional flying, with planes or hangliders or even jetpacks. He dreamed of having wings. Such thinking was forbidden, so he kept it locked away in his heart. Everyone could tell something was up with him because he was always staring at the sky. Even while walking down the street. It was surprising he didn't have a permanent neck cramp from it.
He even had a pet bird, Petey by name. It was the typical issue, a green parrot. There was something in that too. When no one was looking he would let Petey fly anywhere he wanted, although often he sat on his shoulder. His mother had once caught Milo talking to himself, but in actuality, he was talking to Petey.
"If I set you free, will you tell me how to grow wings?"
Petey dipped low in a bow. "Come with me and you can ask the Great Bird himself."
"You want me to come with you?"
"You are my family. The only one I have."
"I'm not a bird."
"Yet living on the ground is killing you, though you do not realize this."
"What if they won't let me in to the Kingdom?"
"Then we will find somewhere else to go."
Milo scratched gently behind Petey's head. "What about my family?"
"You are no longer a fledgling. The time has come to leave the nest."
They left the next evening in Milo's plane. He did not respond to the calls to turn back as he neared the edge of the island. No one bothered to chase after him. It was too much effort for only a small plane, driven by a young man with a bird-sized brain.
Petey asked directions from a flock of seagulls and although they were wary of the flying machine, they could not break their vows and revealed the location of the Bird Kingdom to the young parrot.
They flew on for what seemed like days, always toward the horizon, always below the clouds, with the endless sea in all directions under them. He was low on fuel, but he did not tell Petey until it was too late. He couldn't have turned back. He would not return to that world again.
The warning light flashed. The tank was empty. It was only a matter of minutes before he would fall out of the sky.
"You fool!" Petey bit his hand, "Why! Why did you come all this way knowing you could not make it?"
"I had to try. I really thought I could. I gave up everything, and if nothing else, at least I can fly for real just once."
Milo unbuckled his seatbelt, and though Petey tried to stop him, he leapt from the plane. The plane itself spiraled down, down, down, splashing briefly before disappearing under the waves.
Milo closed his eyes, his arms wide, fingers splayed. This is what it was like to truly live, to fly so fast he didn't have a breath.
Milo never hit the water.