He would finally fly today. He had prepared for years, studying the updrafts, the lift they would provide, the turbulence, the drag, the distance that he would soar. He had meticulously planned his route for the last year, though he had wanted to fly for many years before. He had lived with his dream of flying since he could remember. He was thirteen years old the first time the thought came to him. He was up a crab apple tree then. He had climbed that tree nearly every day of his childhood, but now those memories were a distant mirage.
But he remembered thirteen. The apples, crisp in the early evening air, and swollen with the waters of a soaking summer, were ready to drop to the chilling ground below. He had eaten his bittersweet fill that summer beneath the canopy of the surrounding wood. There wasn’t a single one to be found on the low branches, at least not ones that the worms had not burrowed into yet. And so, he’d eaten his way up the tree in similar fashion, inching ever higher, pausing to bite into a tart fruit here and there, until thirteen.
That day he would reach the top branch where the sun had kissed the green skins with its golden rays. They would be sweeter he’d thought. He’d dashed through the wood that day; thirteen, wiping the tears from his eyes ready to escape. He would have his solitude soon. He had meticulously planned throughout the summer. He had eaten his way to the top branch, and enjoyed every bittersweet crab apple along the ascent. He had secured his climbing rope the night before. He was ready.
But he was there on that day, thirteen; still, swinging, pushed by inertia, dragged by the air, short of the ground by several feet, the climbing rope taut and twanging.
He wondered, looking up the crab apple tree at the dangling wingtips, if he would rather fly. And so, he made up his mind that day when he was thirteen that one day he would.
© J. Manuel