The Flight

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Charli is a girl who spends a lot of time by herself. She doesn’t mind, but it has never been any different. Her parents are workaholics, they live for their work. Her mom runs a performing arts studio. She plans events, organizes dance trips, and is the face of the studio. Charli has grown up seeing dancers of all sorts jumping and leaping through the air. Their passion for dance shows as they push of the ground and become free. Charli recognized that freedom they achieved and was attracted to it. She wanted to achieve that. For so long she had been tied down to her small town in North Carolina. People in this town never leave; they are born, raised, schooled, married, and die in this town. That never appealed to Charli, she always dreamed of reaching something bigger, something beyond. She walked down the street, alone of course, and would hear every other person greeting the next. “Bob! Hey, how’s that car of yours?” “Dana, I love your hair!” “Al, I heard about your mother, I am so sorry.” Sometimes people would direct comments like these at Charli, but they are never quite sincere, which she knows. ‘Do they actually want to stop in the middle of the street and have a conversation about how I am, no.’ So, she would simply say she was fine and keep walking. Now her dad on the other hand, he owns a jewelry store and insists that Charli take it over after she graduates high school. Charli is not excited in the least about it. ‘Who wants to stand in a small dimly lit room helping selfishly-rich people buy their significant other a sparkly diamond? Not me.’ Now, she never said that to her father because it would break his heart, but she didn’t know how to get out of it. She felt trapped. She felt trapped in her town, in her family business, in her house, and most strongly, in her body. She wanted to find that freedom, that sense of escape that she knew those dancers felt.

That’s why everyday, anytime she had a chance, she flew. Flying means something different to everyone. To most, it means to defy gravity, to use wings to propel yourself forward through the air, to others it means to speed through life, to Charli, it means freedom, it means happiness, it means escape. The sky is intimidating. It is a never-ending world of uncertainty, but Charli had longed to be a part of that sky for a long time. She fell asleep every night, laying on her right side facing her window. The stars sparkled and spoke to Charli through her window. During the day, she watched the clouds form shapes. The wisps of moisture glided through the sky so seamlessly. The shapes, together, created a movie of possibilities.


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Charli’s foot kicked off from the dirt foundation below. She grabbed the chains to either side of her and kicked her legs in front of her. She pulled them back in and then thrust them back out. She did this over and over until she rose higher and higher. Forward, she could almost reach the sky, backwards and she could feel her weightlessness in air. She could spend her entire life on that oval piece of rubber. She tucked her legs and grabbed the chains on the backswing and then released everything and used the forward force to propel her up and out. Contrary to her desires, however, when she was in midair the betrayed grip of gravity tightened around her legs and yanked her down. No matter how much resistance Charli focused upwards, the fierce grip around her legs spread up her body and pulled her to the ground. This exact grip is what she felt everyday, holding her down, trapping her. Yet, everyday, she walked to that same swing set, on that same deserted hill. A few blocks from both her home and her school is a piece of land that looks as if someone grabbed onto the grass and pulled it straight up. It’s a hump of land in the middle of a flat town. It’s not too tall or steep, and there is a lot of room on the top, but it looks out of place. Just how Charli liked it. She was rarely disturbed even though everyone knew what she was doing. Every morning on her walk to the swing-set she passed her classmates, “Just give up, Charli.” “You’ll never fly and you know it.” “You’re crazy.” Sayings like these were directed at her every day. On her way to the swing-set after school people reminded her, “You know, gravity exists Charli, you can’t deny it.” But Charli never rebutted these statements; she kept her mouth shut, looked forward, and kept walking. She was confident in herself that with enough practice and determination she could do it, she could fly. So, everyday before school she walked to the swing-set, sat down, and kicked her legs up. By then, she was an expert swinger; she could get into the air faster than anyone else could. But she couldn’t fly. No matter how many times she walked to that swing-set and silenced all her thoughts but those that pertained to her goal, she couldn’t reach it. The negativity that people forced on her seeped into her mind and took over her thoughts. Eventually she lost her will to try. She put down her defenses she had so long empowered and surrendered to what everyone was telling her. She could not succeed.

So for weeks she walked around with no destination or desires. Her mouth neither formed a smile nor a frown and her eyes lost all of their sparkle because she let others stifle her imagination. She was more lost than ever, wandering around the school during class and staying in bed when home. Her parents were very preoccupied and didn’t notice this change until one night at dinner. They were all sitting around the dinner table. Charli just looked down at her white rice and dry salmon while spinning a burnt broccoli on her fork. “Charli, you seem kind of down tonight,” said her father, pointing out the obvious, “do you want to come help me at the store after-school? It might be fun and it will prepare you for later when it’s all yours.” This was the last straw for Charli, the day before, one of her classmates asked her in an annoying squeaky voice, “have you given up on that silly dream of yours, Amelia?” That statement plus what her dad had just said re-sparked her dream, but this time it was brighter and stronger than ever. She bolted up, making her chair fall back behind her, and left the room, headed for the hill. As she walked there, all of her old longings and motivation assembled and formed a new fervent drive. She started picking up and placing down her feet faster until she was jogging. She braced herself on the cold metal frame, knowing that this was her last time. She was going to fly. She inched towards the swing, mentally preparing herself, and finally, when she was ready, plopped herself down. She pressed her feet into the dirt and sprung forward, leaving two footprints in the ground. After 4 pumps of her legs she was in total control of the swing. The wind nudged through each strand of hair propelling her forward. She closed her eyes, sucked a long breath of air up her nose and then released her body into the hands of nature. Those hands embraced her and lifted her up. She flew.





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