In The Sky

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. -C.S. Lewis

“On back!” he shouted. I fumbled with the plastic packaging, tugging on a corner, then gripping it with my teeth, then reaching for something sharper. “On back!”

“There’s nothing on the back,” I said, and now that the thing was free of its wrapper I unfurled it before him. “See? Nothing on the back.”

I slid the stick in place. “On back!”

Poked the white string through the hole and tied a square knot. “On back!”

“Look,” I said, “there’s nothing on the back. Just white.”

He followed me down the stairs, out the front door in bare feet, across the too-long fescue, clover, bald spots and crabgrass. I held it up and waited. The string ran through his tight fist, his face scrunched up in confusion, impatiently tugging. “On back!”

“Me try,” he insisted, yanking the string and freeing the thing at its end from my hand.

“OK,” I instructed, “hold it up. High. Very high.”

He stared at me slightly amused by my ignorance – smug, deciding whether to ignore me – the way a cat stares when you say “come.”

A swollen pause. Still staring. Then he unfroze – over his head it went and then slid into place flat to his back, his little brown fingers gripping the edges of it, holding it there. “See?” he asked. He ran, toothy white shining surrounded my bronze, brows stretched up, eyes like headlights. “On back!”

Oh, I see.

A few minutes of this and he slowed to a jog. A few minutes more and the jog became a walk.

“Can I show you?” I asked. “Come.”

I took the string in one hand and his wings in the other, lifting them high at the top of the cul-de-sac’s slope. They teetered there on my finger tips. “Wait,” I said, his furrowed brow announcing impatience.

“On back!”

“Wait.”

“On back!”

The smallest breeze came across the field of weeds, past a broken down barn, across the two-lane street and into the subdivision, over the neighbor’s yard, up the cul-de-sac and lifted the kite from my hand – lifting his eyes and slacking his jaw.

“In the sky,” he whispered.

Up past the bottom branches of the hackberry trees. Up past the tip of the light pole.

“In the sky,” he said. “In the sky!” he shouted, running in circles, neck bent backward behind his head, mouth open, fingers fanned out from hands raised heavenward, giggling.

Then, as suddenly as it had arrived, the wind left our circle to visit the rest of the neighborhood – girls on bikes making figure eights, dogs leashed to couples walking, sprinklers sputtering beside gardens. As the sun put on orange and headed off to bed, he held his kite close to his ribs – still smiling. I rested my hand on his head – still smiling. We walked together toward the back door and the smell of supper.

“In the sky,” he said.

“Yes.”

Third-World-Symphony-Shaun-Groves

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