Into the Wind
by Adrian Hoad-Reddick
On yellow and
blue summer days, Paul's father took Paul across green hills to
a meadow void of trees, overhead lines or buildings. He would peer
into the sky and stand quietly, the large box held under his arm.
He would turn and breathe in the wind and only then would he stoop
to the ground and unpack the Dart. The Dart, a four-line kite with
a will of its own, was a dexterous stunt kite, more than capable
of launching an eight-year-old boy into the air in only moderate
The Dart featured
a bold red eagle, wings raised to the skies. It measured 8 feet
across and 3 feet nose to tail. The Dart required four 80-pound
test lines to anchor it to earth and its human controller.
was careful and predictable. He would set the kite on its back,
roll out fifty feet of line, take the hard plastic controllers in
hand and untwist the line. Paul's job was to take the top edge of
the Dart and hold it off the ground, freeing and separating its
lines. Occasionally, a gust of wind would topple the kite - Paul
would leap out of its way or let go quickly enough to avoid being
pulled on to it.
When all was
ready, Paul's Dad would yell "Ready!" and just as he flicked
back on the controls, Paul would let go of the kite and step aside.
The Dart would catch air and soar aloft. Paul's Dad was adept at
controlling the Dart's movements. Paul often stood in front of his
Dad, watching the push and pull of his wrists rolling the controllers
fore and aft like a joystick. The Dart would dip its head left or
right in response to his subtle directives.
The Dart seemed
to have a mind of its own some days. It wavered, laughing at the
sun. It dove at gophers and retreated with a sadistic roar as the
winds fluttered across the plane of its fabric.
Paul's Dad wrote messages across the clouds using a large loopy
cursive, the Dart his pen writing in the invisible ink of the imagination
and memory. Sometimes Paul would fly a kite of his own and the Dart
would weave in a game of tag aloft among the summer thermals.
Paul would remember his father just like this - his dark laughing
eyes squinting into the glare of the sunny skies, his bare hairy
arms exposed below a short-sleeved t-shirt, his elbows tucked in
against his sides, his wrists flicking their will on the airborne
Dart. He would laugh and holler at the Dart, and he would invite
Paul to yell out commands to the Dart.
"Up. Down. Down some more. Race after that bird," Paul
On rare occasions, the Dart would unleash its powerful anger and
pull and tear at its earthy tether. The more the Dart resisted,
the more loudly would Paul woop and laugh in response, chastising
the Dart with his good-natured admonishments.
One afternoon in late July, Paul's father tripped backward over
a groundhog hole, twisting and spraining his ankle. The full power
of the kite wrenched through one hand controller, breaking his father's
"Ah," he yelled, releasing the kite from his control.
Paul ran after the trailing and bouncing controllers, as his father
rolled onto his stomach.
"Paul! No!" Paul's dad screamed.
Paul stopped short, frustrated because he knew he could have reached
the controllers as they skittered along the grass. He'd always regret
not having tried to stop the Dart. He always regretted not having
felt the feral strength of the Dart in his forearms and shoulders
and chest. Later, his Father would list the possible horrors: Paul
may have been carried aloft. He may have lost a finger to the razor
Freed of all control, the Dart soared high and fashioned an ambiguous
"Well, I'll be damned," responded Paul's father, speaking
more to himself than to Paul. "I do believe it is bidding us
The Dart wasn't about to spiral out of control to the ground and
crash in the sun-baked grass, awaiting return. It took all of Paul's
energy to help his father hobble home. The shadows were long across
the foothills when they returned. They'd explain to Paul's mother
how Paul's father had sprained his ankle and broken his wrist, and
how they'd lost everything.
And a kite sailed high and sliced through afternoon clouds, showing
no intention of ever returning to be yoked to the green hills on
yellow and blue days by the laughing man and his boy.