Robert knew he could fly. There was no question about it.
The problem was that no one else was ever around to see it. And that was worse than it would have been, he thought, than if he’d never learned to fly in the first place.
He didn’t fly like a bird or an airplane; he flew like a bright kite, rising above the trees in a determined but almost frantic ascent, his nose, his face, his aqua eyes focused entirely on the sky above the trees, above the voices of liars.
It was so clean up there, the air pure.
And the sky understood him, the clouds welcomed him. In fact, if they saw him coming they’d gather in little groups and decide in a hushed whisper how best to entertain their little companion.
“I’ll be a dancer said one. Look I am on my toes.”
“ That’s nothing said another. I am a warrior.” And he puffed up until a blue-grey shield appeared on his chest, at which point the sun handed him a ray to use for a sword.
But today was no day to fly.
Robert didn’t even look up because it hurt him to know that today, the worst day, the day he had an obligation to the one he would bury, the clouds still moved in the sky and the sun still ruled the day.
The rage had passed, but the hurt would not leave. It bore into his bones and moved through his marrow.
None of this day made sense.
The cars lining up, and people bringing casseroles. The sick smell of lilies.
At one point, Robert felt himself rising above the heads of people dabbing their eyes with Kleenex. He floated there just a moment, barely long enough to be sickened by the irony of this group of people, many without a hint of holiness in them, sitting here, saying goodbye to his son as if they had any right whatsoever to walk into this room where an angel rested.
It made him wretch.
He ran out of the room, away from the sound of bees and hornets and yellow jackets that buzzed and hissed condolences.
Robert pulled away they and they said, “Sssstay.” But they dared not touch him.
When the door behind him slammed shut the people turned back to themselves.
In the fresh air, Robert stood tall, taller than any man. His blue/green eyes were the kind that made a person wish they could jump in, and they were focused on something only he could see.
He stood tall so quickly it was as if something inside had been released, like an accordion that took a sudden breath and was being pulled open and then twisted in the musician’s hands to wring out the most original music. The accordion folded; cries of great love poured out.
“Hold on dad! Catch up!”
Robert held onto the bars of his motorcycle, thundering down the road. Everything was upside down. Thunder rumbled from the highway and there was no sky but a lake where the sky had been.
He heard Nathan calling,
“Hold on dad!”
Robert sat firm, “I am!” He said.
He was determined to keep the wheels rolling. It was going so fast.
He remembered that he could fly.
But today was no day for flying, was it?
Robert gripped the handlebars
Before long he was knee deep in cumulonimbus. The road beneath him had vanished and there was nothing but sky above and below.
He knew Nathan must be nearby because he could hear him; he looked, but couldn’t see him.
“Hold on, dad!”
“I am,” Robert whispered.