Haunting childhood memory
I Wonder if I Can Fly
When I was ten or twelve years old, I wanted to fly. Not in an airplane, but with wings. I became intrigued with the villain warriors sweeping across the screen in the Saturday Serial playing at the local movie theater. I envied their ability to don man-made wings then sail from the cliffs and mountain tops in an effort to protect their malevolent king from his rightful demise. I didn’t remember the lessons of good versus evil conveyed by the plot, but I memorized the details of the wings and other garb that enabled the majestic flight of these creatures week after week.
I daydreamed of flying as I gazed down from my tree house and while watching birds and buzzards gliding above. I pretended to fly while speeding down hills on my bicycle, feeling airborne with the wind in my face and the road moving swiftly below me.
I made wings with bits of cord and materials cut from brown cardboard boxes. With the wings strapped to my back, I would run through the field hoping that a gust of wind would catch me and lift me off the ground.
One day I put on my wings and climbed atop our rickety old garage to a perch perhaps twenty feet from the ground. I stood facing a breezy eastern sky, my outstretched arms holding the wings. With my breaths short and my heart pounding I surveyed the landscape below me; I was but a tiny leap from sailing down the driveway and around the yard; I was never more self-confident.
I stood there for a long time, occasionally lifting one foot then putting it back down; moving my arms slightly to check the breeze while over and over taking that final breath just before liftoff.
Liftoff never occurred. I didn’t take the tiny leap. Since that time more than fifty years ago, with every successful event in my life, my thoughts go back to that day and again, I wonder if I can fly. --Prier