I was standing on a roof.  My roof.  My parent’s roof.  I was looking down on our front yard; they were staring up at me — the kids from the neighborhood.

There was the chubby girl with the beautiful face who would wind up getting pregnant much too early, and her younger brother who died from drugs much too young.  Next to her stood the much-too-cute-for-me boy who would be not-so-cute later, but played a wicked game of baseball.  Beside him stood the goofy, home-schooled kid who was more fun than all of them put together.  Behind this group stood the only black kid on the block — he thought he was tough; I beat him up once for hitting his puppy.  My sister stood next to him — this beautifully simple girl who would become so complex.

I had informed this group of neighborhood kids that I could fly.  I figured that in the course of the conversation if I just tossed this bit of information in casually, it might be commented on as something really neat, but ultimately dismissed as something that anyone would want to see.  Kid logic.  Go figure.  Needless to say, (but I’ll say it anyway), I was asked to prove it.

While my sister proceeded to defend my honor, “She can fly; I’ve seen it,” I began to devise a plan.  I noticed how close the large tree in our front yard was to our house.  Doing quick geometry (which I didn’t know was geometry then) I estimated that if I ran hard enough I could launch myself from the top of our one-story house, grab the tree and ultimately make it look as though I flew to the tree.  At this point, I surmised that the neighborhood kids would be sufficiently impressed, and I could tell them I would never fly in front of them again because they didn’t believe I could fly in the first place.  Brilliant!  My plan was in place.

I climbed our fence and hoisted myself up onto the roof.

Now, standing on top of the house, looking down on my friends, I felt a sort of calm.  I wasn’t nearly as scared as I thought I’d be.  What if I could actually fly?  That would be something, wouldn’t it?  And I would never have known it because I would have just assumed I couldn’t.

I walked backwards up the roof, lining myself up with the tree in front of me.  I screamed, “Ready?”

There were yells from below, inaudible, but I got the picture, “Do it already.”

I started running.  I got to the edge of the roof and launched myself toward the tree.


You know that moment right before you realize you did something really stupid when time seems to stand still.  That’s what happened.

There was a moment when I thought, “I’ve done it.  I’m going to make it.”

That moment was short lived as I felt my fingertips brush the tree branches and felt my body slowly fall to earth.  I landed on my face — the breath knocked from me.  I think I might have also lost consciousness.

I rolled over to find my sister looking down at me.  I don’t know how long I had been laying there.  Everyone else had gone – scattered when I landed with a thud and appeared dead.  I looked up at her.

“Almost,” was all she said before she went to join the others.


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