Icarus Revisited

      my modern take on Greek mythology………

            “Come on, Johnny! Don’t be such a wuss…don’t ya wanna go flying?” Keith goaded his little brother. Sometimes he hated the fact that Johnny was only eight ears old. He was such a baby!

            “I-I guess so, but Dad told us not to mess with the hang-gliders. He said it’s too dangerous and we’re not old enough.”

            “Oh please! Dad’s just an old fart who doesn’t want us to have any fun,” Keith retorted. “We can be back before he gets home from work. We’ll put this stuff back in the garage like we found it and he’ll never know we were gone.”

            “But we don’t know anything about this,” Johnny feebly protested.

            “It’s easy – I’ve watched Dad do this lots of times. I know how to hang-glide. We just have to put on the safety gear, hold on to the bar and run off the cliff. The wind will push us around until we land on the beach. It’s a piece of cake. Now are ya gonna go or are ya gonna stay here and whine?”

            Johnny eyed the hang-gliders with a sense of curiosity and trepidation. Keith usually ignored him, and he didn’t want to miss the one chance he was being given to spend time with his brother; on the other hand, he didn’t want to do anything to upset his father. But if Keith said they’d be back before anyone noticed they were gone…

            “Okay, I’ll go!” Johnny finally exclaimed.

            “Alright!” Keith high-fived his brother. “Now help me with the gear and then we’ll go.”

            Johnny awkwardly helped his brother gather everything they needed and followed him as they made their way to the backyard and the cliff that dropped to the sea…

**********

            “Okay, I’ll go first,” Keith announced as they peered over the rocks. Even though he was only thirteen, he chose not to see himself as a boy. He was a man, capable of doing anything any other grown-up could do and now he would prove it! Backing up, he lifted the hang-glider over his head, holding tightly to the metal bar as the wind began to strain against its wings. “Follow me and I’ll meet you on the beach!”

            Running awkwardly, Keith threw himself over the side of the cliff, the glider dipping momentarily before a wind current lifted it. Johnny watched as Keith soared through the air, the wind carrying him away.

            “Woooohoooo!” Keith’s cry of excitement was all Johnny  needed to hear before joining his brother. Soon they were both airborne, the silken wings of the gliders bobbing through the warm summer air. Johnny’s fear dissipated when he realized how beautiful the earth seemed from the sky. The ocean was clear and sparkled in the sunlight, and the sand was a blanket of pale gold beneath them. Keith was off to his side, and Johnny looked over at his brother, each of them grinning in giddy delight.

            “This is awesome!” Johnny yelled, his voice swallowed by the air that rushed past him.

            “I told ya so!” Keith screamed back, immensely pleased with himself.

            They lost themselves in the exhilaration of flying until Keith noticed that their shadows were suddenly gone. Clouds obscured the sun, and the air suddenly smelled of rain. He immediately steered his glider into a tight spiral, knowing that they had to land before the storm broke. Johnny tried to follow, but a harsh crack of thunder sounded and the shifting air currents suddenly caused him to lose control of his glider.

            “Help me!” Johnny screamed.

            There was, however, nothing Keith could do, and he watched in terror as Johnny tumbled from the sky. Keith tried to maneuver his glider so that he could catch his brother on the wing, but it was a futile act. Catching Johnny would mean that the wing would tear, and then who would save them both? What have I done, he thought as he watched his brother plummet to the sea, why didn’t I listen to Johnny? Rain began to pour, soaking Keith’s glider and crumpling the metal frame under the weight of the waterlogged wings; he frantically tried to steer but couldn’t, for his wings of silk had become ones of lead.

            Screaming for his father, Keith too plunged into the icy ocean.

**********

            Keith was roused to consciousness by the beeping of a heart monitor. It was loud and echoed in the same way that the water had as it had crashed him against the rocks. His body hurt all over and he was terribly thirsty, so he willed himself to open his eyes, hoping to find someone who could give him a drink of water. Instead of a doctor or nurse, he saw his father crying in the corner. Keith felt overwhelmed – he’d never seen his father cry before. Something terrible must have happened! When his father turned to look at him, the entire tragedy was reflected in his eyes – the arrival home from work to find the house empty, the frantic search for his sons, the heartwrenching discovery at the bottom of the cliff – everything was evident in his father’s angry, heartbroken gaze.

            “What were you thinking, Keith? Johnny was just a boy! He would have followed you anywhere – what the hell were you thinking?”

            Keith ‘s heart pounded frantically as he tried to speak, unable to find the words to say he was sorry.  What good would an apology do? It wouldn’t bring Johnny back. It wouldn’t ease his father’s pain. His innocent brother was gone because of him, and in that realization, Keith knew that his spirit had too slipped away into death…

     

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