Posted on December 19, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair12.19.2014 Journal Prompt Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson December 19, 2014: I got to fly. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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There’s a time I remember – a year that’s all broken in bits so I remember it imperfectly. It was the year dad left and mum took Uncle Ken into her bed and I started with the dizzy spells.
I recall a girl at the park called Tibby. She used to sit next to my dad and they’d watch me and Caroline taking turns on the slide. Tibby was always laughing and she kept putting her hand on my dad’s arm and dad was happy, too. I thought Tibby was prettier than our mum and I thought maybe dad felt the same way.
One day I recall was when Tibby taught me to fly. She was on the swing next to me and she was really leaning into the air and pushing herself higher and higher. Then, when she was at the highest point of her forward swinging, she just let go and jumped through the air, her arms flapping like the wings of a bird. She landed on her feet and crumpled to the ground. When she stood up again she was breathless with laughing.
Tibby said that landing was the bit you had to practice, but the flying was easy. She was right on both counts. Tibby kissed my skinned knee and she said she saw it all and she said I was really flying. We did it over and over and it got better and better, and in those moments when the ground was moving away from me and the sky was closer than treetops, it did feel like flying.
Then dad was gone and Tibby wasn’t at the park after that. I asked mum where dad had gone and she said he just upped and flew away and she said good fucking riddance to bad rubbish. I didn’t ask about dad after that.
Uncle Ken smelled of beer and cigarettes and he was always ruffling my hair and he called me Sport and Caroline he called Sugar. He kept kissing mum, when he thought me and Caroline couldn’t see, and touching her under her dress. And at night I could hear them through the wall of my bedroom, all groaning and sucking air.
He took us to the fair when it came. He said it was his treat. We ate candy floss from a stick and hot dogs with ketchup and we could go on any ride that we wanted. Uncle Ken and mum went on the Ghost Train near enough a hundred times, but mostly that was so they could kiss in the dark. Me and Caroline went on this ride with small cartoon planes held at arms length from a spinning centre. Uncle Ken said it would be like really flying, but it wasn’t. I was sick afterwards. Mum said it was all the cheap food I’d eaten, but I reckon it was the spinning in a circle for so long and being so dizzy.
I was going through mum’s things one day. Maybe it was the same year, maybe it was later. I was looking for money or cigarettes. I found this envelope with a newspaper cutting tucked inside. There was a picture of Tibby printed on the paper, pretty and smiling. It said she had killed herself jumping from the top of a building in town. It was the landing that killed her.
In my head I tried to picture her with her arms flapping like the wings of birds and Tibby flying through the breathless air. I stood on tiptoes and my head high and I was dizzy then. Mum found me unconscious on the floor of her bedroom. I’d hit my head on the corner of the bed. I had to see doctors after that and they did lots of tests and it seems I never could pass those tests.
All of that was years back. In my memory it’s all broken, like pieces of a jig-saw with some of the bits missing so no matter how I put them together it doesn’t make any sense to me, even now. I’ve to call Uncle Ken ‘dad’ these days because he married my mum. And dad, my real dad, he sends cards at Christmas with small money folded inside. And I’ve started jumping from higher and higher walls, flapping my arms in the air, and perfecting the landing.