The contraption cobbled together from scrap plumbing supplies, old sheets, and a wheelbarrow rolled farther and farther away from me. Knowing time was short, the storm drawing closer with every minute, I quickly moved to my own glider. Before I climbed in I looked back just as Ikarus went over the small cliff disappearing from view. I held my breath waiting for the sound of a crash, or to see him soaring.
Minutes dragged out into infinity. The only sounds were my heart hammering away in my ears, and the distant rumbles of thunder. Just when I was about to give up hope Ikarus zoomed up, catching a thermal from the large parking lot below. Unable to help myself I let out a shout of joy, and danced like a school boy let loose to holiday. Ikarus circled overhead giving his own whoop.
We were we free. Free of the sunny retirement home, free from our families who didn’t care about two aging World War II fighter pilots. And we were free from the ground where we never felt at home. With a final whoop I climbed into my glider and began my slow roll down the hill toward the cliff.
I white-knuckled the controls as I bounced and jostled toward my freedom or possible death. At 70 years old, I didn’t care about death. I’ve begged for death since the war ended. Forced to try and relearn to live on solid ground, to fly civilian aircrafts. I’ve asked god why I couldn’t have died with my comrades over the pacific ocean.
I went over the edge and felt my heart lift into my throat as I pulled back hard on the controls. I felt as if my arms would break from the strain, and just when I was sure I was gonna splatter on the parking lot below the wind changed and I felt myself level out. I felt my heart rush with the old joy of being in the air, and I couldn’t help but begin laughing as the wind whipped my face.
Me and Ikarus circled slowly trying to gain some altitude. “Hey, the fossils have spotted us!” he shouted and pointed to the ground. The other forgotten relics were shuffling outside to watch us, the nursing home staff looking up mouths agape. “Let’s give these dinosaurs something to remember while they gum prunes!” shouted Ikarus over the wind. I tried to warn him that these gliders might not be strong enough to do tricks. The fact that we were still in the air was surprising to me.
But, Ikarus didn’t hear me. With a triumphant laugh he set the glider into a dive and swooped once over the people on the ground, causing them to run or fall to the ground screaming. He dove one more time laughing, but he was too busy enjoying himself to notice he had drifted too close to the large plaster sun on the roof of the building. I tried to call out to warn him, but the wind was too loud.
I watched in horror as the tip of his left wing clipped the large sun and quickly ripped free. He spun, his face contorted with the effort of trying to control the damaged glider. As he spun, the other wing quickly disintegrated, and he plummeted toward the ground. With a loud crash he landed in the center of the duck pond. I circled around hoping to see him climb out, but the ominous, unmoving hand hung from the glider. Staff ran into the pond to try and save him, but the red water splashing up confirmed what I had feared. Again a fellow pilot had died and I was left alive.
I felt my eyes sting, a tear escaping my old hardened mask. I raised my right hand and gave a final salute to my old wing man. I then turned the controls to the west heading toward the sea. Nothing was left for me on the earth below, I had nothing left but the wind that carried me now. I’ll see you soon my friends.