Learning to Fly

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I’ve been friends with Elroy Emerson since longer than I can remember. The main thing about Elroy is that he was always into flying – birds, planes, boomerangs – you name it. Anything that could get off the ground and into the air, even for a little bit, made him happy like a million bucks. It was his dad, Albert, who got him started. You see, Albert was a stunts pilot – used to do shows for the “god damned city slickers” that came out to the Midwest during the no-school days to visit relatives. The money wasn’t great; hell, Albert must’ve tried to quit more than a dozen times, but I guess he just couldn’t bear to lose that twinkly smile his “little Elroy” used to give him after he asked his pops to tell him, just once more, how much bluer the sky looked from up-close.

Me and Elroy used to have this thing that we always did in the school yard where we would swing together on the swing set, right side by side, and we would lean back hard when we were going up and kick our legs back even harder when we shot back down again. Then, when we had gotten just about as high as we could stand, we would count down from three and, when we got to one, we would yell “JUMP” and let go. Whoever flew the farthest was the winner. It was usually Elroy. This one time, Elroy almost made it clear into the sandbox, except stupid Curtis Malloy was in the way, so Elroy knocked him on his bum instead. Afterwards, Teacher made Elroy apologize to Curtis, but I thought it should’ve been the other way ‘round since it was Curtis who got in the way of Elroy making it into the sandbox – and that doesn’t happen every day.

I remember last spring, while we were swinging like usual, Elroy told me about this place that he had heard about during his first day of Sunday school called “heaven.” He said it was a swell place, sweller than swell even – told me it had pearly gates, angels, and enough soda pop to last us ‘til July. At first, I thought it was a bunch of baloney, but he said that it was his teacher that told him – and she was much too old to be wrong about stuff like that. He said that the reason people don’t go there all the time is because it was too high up, way up on top of the clouds. And that’s when we decided that we should go.

For the rest of Ms. Reynolds’s class we passed notes across our desks about how we were going to do it. I told him that I had heard about a stairway to heaven from a poster my brother had over his bed, but he said that stairs were for sissies, so that was the end of that. He said that the best way would be to fly, and that we wouldn’t even need a plane or anything; we could just do it like superman did every Tuesday on television – with a cape. Elroy said that he would go first, seeing as I didn’t have a real cape or anything. He had a long red one, with a big “S” that he drew on the back with white-out. It was a fine cape, except it bunched up against the ground on the bottom when Elroy walked, making him trip all over the place; I thought that was mighty funny.

The next day, after Elroy got the cape tied around his neck – real tight, so it wouldn’t come off – we headed out to the gorge behind Old Mr. Menkin’s house and counted down from three. At first, I thought that the cape hadn’t worked, and that he had just fallen like a rock, but afterwards everybody in town told me that Elroy had gone to heaven after all. And that’s how I knew that I must have just imagined him screaming, because the grown-ups around town were way too old to be wrong about stuff like that.





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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

sniffy said...
May 14, 2011 at 11:01 am

well written and very touching.

bev gordon  friend of Ellens

 
bunnyrabbitt said...
May 13, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Amazing story.  Well written and powerful ending. 

Buny, friend of Ellen

 
cook carole replied...
May 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm
You are flying high with excellent writing skills. Good article.
 
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