The problem with learning to fly is that, on the first few attempts, you actually think you might be able to do it. I was luckier than most on my first try. I only shattered my tibia, a minor price to pay for the sake of progress. The whole ride to the hospital my mom was crying, both for me and the medical bills she would have to cover.
“What were you thinking, jumping out the window like that?” she screamed between the short, choked sobs and occasional honking of our rusted-out ford as we navigated the back roads to the hospital. “Never do that again. Look at me Charlie. Never. Do that. Again.” The thick musk of whiskey hung on her every word.
I spent what seemed like forever in the hospital, trapped in an oppressively white room, surrounded by a small army of nurses that watched over me like my mom used to. Then came the doctors, measuring my reflexes and asking all sorts of questions about my injury and family.
“Have you ever done this before?” / “Tell me if you can feel it when I do this?”
“Can you rotate your ankle for me?” / “How’s your relationship with your father?”
For the first few weeks after I was got home there was nearly always someone with an eye on me. Family dinners, a new concept in our house, were suddenly the norm. Most ended with little being said. Dad occasionally skipped them altogether to work in his den, or because he had to work late. It didn’t matter to me. Eventually, they would stop watching. Things would go back to normal. I’d learn to fly, whether they wanted me to or not.
That chance came on a wonderfully sunny Sunday afternoon. Mom was sleeping on the couch, beer cans strewn about the floor. Dad had been in his office all day, only coming out to use the bathroom. Every once in awhile I could hear his Keurig splutter out another coffee, the only indication I had that he was still there.
I crept up the steps to the second-floor window, slid the screen out and took a deep breath. The breeze rustled my hair a bit, I could see the trees swaying from side to side in the sunshine. I took a few steps back, got a running start, and propelled myself out the window. For one, beautiful moment, I hung in the air. Then the ground came rushing up to meet me.
Simon Matela is an undergraduate Creative Writing major at Chatham University with a focus (on/in) Fiction. He has been published in The Minor Bird and now The Blue Marble Review. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his cat, Lola.