Short story from Huck Shelf

My Flying Phase

    Since I was eight, I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I was able to get snacks from the top shelf, and I could show off to my friends.

    The first person I told was my best friend, James.

    “No you can’t!” he said. “That’s impossible.”

    “I totally can!” I yelled back.

    “Fine. Show me.”

    I concentrated, willing myself to lift until my feet dangled above the playground floor. “There. See?”

    “Wow, that’s cool.”


    “You’re like a superhero! Anyways, wanna see my new Pokemon cards?”

    “Sure,” I said.

I also showed Sarah. At first, she didn’t believe me either.

I showed her the same way, floating down the sidewalk as we walked home.

She smiled. “It’s like you’re an alien!”

Later, I thought to myself about what James said. I could be a superhero, but I knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want to fight (because Mom said that fighting was ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN), and I didn’t want to wear a costume (because Papa said that the costumes in my comics looked ridiculous). But I wanted to be a superhero. I much preferred it to the idea of being an alien. Aliens, as I pictured them, were slimy, and besides, they were always the bad guys. Another thing I didn’t want was to be a bad guy.
I looked through my comic collection, digging for ideas. I discovered that most, but I couldn’t find any that didn’t fight. Disappointed, I went to bed.

    The next day I asked James. “What kind of superhero could I be?”

    “I dunno. Superman flies.”

    “Superman fights. I’m not allowed to fight.”

    “Yeah… What about a spy? I bet every spy would like to fly!”

    I was struck by his genius. I would check with my parents. Maybe, before bedtime, and after dinner, I could be a spy.

    We played, and throughout the day, I was content. I would be a spy.

    My parents were awestruck when I showed them. “Get down this instant!” Mom yelled. “How do you do that?”

    “I just…think about it.”

    Papa gaped. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

    Mom walked over to me. “Can you show us again?”

    I did, rising. I touched the ceiling.

    Mom asked me to come down, so I did. “Did you get caught in something?”

    “Or go somewhere you shouldn’t have?” asked Papa.

    “No,” I said. “I was just wondering what it was like to fly.”

    Papa paced. “I don’t know what to do. Until I figure this out, no flying. It is ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN.”

    My keywords were spoken. I nodded, and went to my room. The next day, I told James I wasn’t allowed to fly anymore.

    “Why not?” he asked.

    “My parents are mean,” I said.

    He nodded understandingly.

    “Could you still be a spy in secret? Spies like secrets.”

    I considered it, but it felt wrong. I had never disobeyed my parents before. “No,” I eventually said. “My parents say it’s not allowed.”

    “Ok,” he said. We went and played on the slide.

    I was a little disappointed, but I forgot about it as we played.

    The next night, my parents argue. I heard them because I was above the kitchen, trying to sleep, and they were in the kitchen. Because of this, whenever they argue, I hear it.

    I they woke me up in the middle of their argument.

    Papa yelled “All I’m saying is I wish my kid were normal!”

    “He’s fine!” shouted Mom. “He doesn’t need to be normal!”

    “Well he doesn’t have to float either!” yelled back Papa.

    “He doesn’t know any more than you!”

I was smart enough to realize that they were talking about me.

I-I know.” said Papa. “Maybe it’s just a thing. Maybe it’ll go away with age.”

Yeah,” said Mom. “It’s like the things you see on the internet. It’s just a weird phase. It’ll go away.”

I heard them walk to their room. As they went to sleep, I lay in bed, wiping the  beginnings of tears out of my eyes. I hated it when my parents fought.

    For the next few years, my parents both looked at me like they were trying to figure out what was wrong with me. They kept a strict watch on me throughout elementary school, and they began to spank me whenever I did something wrong.
By the time I went to middle school, I wasn’t friends with James and Sarah anymore. I had different friends, who had never seen me fly. I became less interested in comics and stories, and more in math and science, and we parted. I said hi to them sometimes, but that was all.

By the time I was independent enough to disobey my parents, I’d forgotten I could ever fly. I convinced myself it had been a childish delusion, or, like my parents said, some weird kid thing.

After all, flying is impossible. Everyone knows that.