Always Remember the Kites - The Ink Well Prompt #12: Childhood Summers

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My father instilled a kite fascination in me growing up. He always made time to fly one with me at least a few times a week. That was until the summer when I was eight, he was less and less able to fly one with me. He was getting weaker and visibly in pain. That summer, he spent most of his days in the hospital.

"Did you get time to fly your kite today?", he asked during one of the family visits. He looked like he is seconds away from wearing off. He looked unable to withstand a gust of wind. His hair has disappeared due to the chemo treatment he was undergoing.

"I didn't do it today", I responded "I don't feel like doing it, not without you"

"You must always remember to fly your kite", he said as he put his hand on my head "Even if you can't do it sometimes. You must always have the urge to fly it, even when the world doesn't want you to do that"

I never understood his obsession with wanting me to fly it. It seemed odd, and out of place. But I decided to listen to him, and now and then, whenever I fell down, I would wrap the thread around a tin can and put it on the roof before running down the street with my kite until it flies. Then I'd run back to the roof and try to release as much of the thread as possible as the kite flew higher.

Every time I would go down I'd see my family dressed in black, overwhelmed by sadness. They would sit in misery awaiting visiting hours to start. I was left behind often, especially as the end of summer approached and his health deteriorated.

Their faces of sadness never changed downstairs. Until one day I was flying my kits and turned around, to my surprise I found them all standing on the roof behind me. The kite was at the highest point it ever got, and I had my entire family as an audience. For a second, they weren't wearing their faces of misery. They weren't exactly laughing, but there was a sneaking smile making its way on their faces every minute or so.

On a rather windy night, my mother joined me on the roof and we stood silent pondering it as she put her hand on my shoulder. The wind was trying to send the kite down but it kept going.

"Mom", I said, "How come the kite is still flying even though the wind fighting it?"

"It's resilient", she explained "It always wants to keep going. No matter how hard the wind blows"

"Do you think it will go down?", I asked.

"It might", she answered as a light smile covered her face "But not without a fight"

As the day went by, the weather started to get windier as the clouds brightened in a sandstorm. As I was fighting to get my kite down I was distracted by the sight of my mother screaming and getting into my uncle's car with tears visibly showing on her face. I was curious to find out what happened, I looked around for the kite only to find it falling as it took the thread with it.

I ran downstairs with plans to go find the kite. I ran across my sister on my way out. She was crying her heart out as fear killed her ability to stand for a moment.

"The hospital called", she said as tears ran down her face "Dad collapsed and he might not make it"

I didn't want to hear it, I didn't want to hear anything. I ran outside as my sister screamed for me to wait. I went to find my kite, it was the only thing on which I was focused. The kite my dad told me to always fly. I ran and ran until I found it in the middle of the street, it was scratched, riddled with holes, worn out, and broken. I walked slowly toward it before the wind blew over, taking it away. I stood behind holding the last of the thread as it flew daringly into the storm.

The next day, my mother took me to the hospital. I saw my father lying in his bed, motionless. Kept alive by tubes, I walked slowly toward him. I remembered all the times he asked me about flying the kite, so I figured he wanted to know.

"It flew again, dad", I whispered into his ear "I thought I had lost it forever, I thought it broke beyond fixing. But it kept flying"

Years passed since that summer. Now and then when I feel hopeless I would remember my kite and go fly it around for hours. Watching it go up and down, back and forth. Every time the wind sends it down, it goes back even higher. Every time it sends it back, it goes even more forward.

"I think I know now why you wanted to keep flying my kite", I told my dad years later as he joined me on one of our kite flying sessions "A kite can do one thing, fight the wind. It is resilient, if it gets pushed down or back, it goes back up and forward. It doesn't stop, even if beaten down, it finds a way to fly again. It takes everything life throws at it and keeps going. Like you"

He smiled in silence as, before we went home for dinner, we stood watching the stitched-up, grafted, disoriented-looking kite attempting to make its way toward the sun.

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