19.6.11

Fallen Father



My father fell early in my life. I used to long for him to still be alive. But he'd be 89 years old now and probably pissed about that. Now I just long for the years from 19 to now. I long for him to have known my children, to have seen me be a father to them, to love them and be proud of me. I hope he is.

Here's one from Becoming Dad/22 in Time about a fallen father:



He could fly.

He was young and weak compared to his parents and his brother, but he was honorable and would soon be stronger than all. He imagined reaching the highest skies of their valley, the great green expanse split by the cool, quick river full of fish and surrounded by the three, white-topped mountains. On the largest of the three mountains grew a tree older than his family’s memory, because it had always been their home. The massive branches of the great, thick, twisted pine went on forever and the nest built near the top of the tree was so big he could get lost going from one end to the other.

And now he could fly.

At first he was terrified. It was a long way to the forest floor from the giant nest. His mother crowded him in the nest, slowly moving him closer to the edge, making his home smaller and smaller. But he was too young and scared and he scuttled around her, ducking off to the far end of the nest, only to have her crowd him again.

But one early morning, just a few suns ago, he woke and his mother was already standing by him, nudging him, opening her wings so that he could not escape. He turned and his father was there as well, standing on a perch branch just off the nest, watching him, commanding him to take the air. And what could he do but try his wings and jump? He stumbled twice through the air, falling much quicker than he thought he could. But then, quite by themselves, his wings opened and he was gliding through the trees down the mountain and into the valley.

And he could fly.

He soon dove into the icy waters of the quick river and caught his first earned meal.

Before long he had flown over the entire valley, or most of it anyway, and even lifted a rabbit and carried it most of the way back to the nest. His weak wings couldn’t make it up the mountain, but he took it far enough, and his father was proud when he swooped down and lifted his son’s kill the rest of the way.

The day of his father’s death, they had been flying together, his father showing him how to lift himself on the breeze and catch the higher currents. They had reached a goodly height when a sound split the sky. He heard his father scream once, short, and then his beautiful wings folded and he dropped as a stone to the valley floor.

He dove after him, hoping to catch him, but he was too slow and too weak to reach him and lift him. But he was close enough to see his father’s head hit a large stone and his body bounce on the ground. His father was broken, gone.

He landed next to his father’s empty body and called out long and hard to his mother and brother. But they were too far away and he knew they wouldn’t hear.

Then the man things appeared. Two of them walked into the grove where his father had fallen. One, large and round with red and black feathers and holding a giant black stick, was squawking at the other. He didn’t know what they said, but he could read a father’s reprimand.

The smaller, also carrying a big stick, seemed ashamed.

“Come on Joe,” the big one said. “We gotta see if you killed it. I won’t let that eagle suffer. You gotta see what you did.”

“Dad, no,” the small one said. “I didn’t know.”

“Hell you didn’t!” the big one squawked. “You know exactly what you did. I don’t know how you got him from that distance, but you knew it wasn’t no game bird. Damn it, Son, that was the bird not to kill, the one you just don’t. Look, there he is.”

He had hidden behind a bush, but couldn’t bring himself to leave his father completely.

They circled his father, looking down at his ruined body.

“No, he’s dead.”

“I killed him?”

“Well, you got him. There it is right in his breast there. Caught him dead center. Drilled him. He would have died from that, but it was the drop that got him. Bashed his head against the rock, probably.”

“Oh.”

They were quiet for a while. He didn’t know what to do. If he moved, they might finish him as well. If he didn’t move, they might catch him just standing here, cowardly, behind the bush.

“Let’s go then,” the father man-thing said. “Nothing to be done.”

They started off, but then the boy turned around and looked directly at him. He must have brushed a leaf with his wing.

“Dad,” he whispered, staring directly at him, into his eyes. “Dad.”

“What is it?” The father turned and followed his son’s gaze.

“I don’t see any... oh wait. What is that?”

“It’s another one. A baby. Maybe I shot its mom.”

“No that’s a male. Probably related though.”

“What do we do?” They had both crouched low to the ground and looked at him, into his eyes. He wanted to flee, to take off into the sky, but he knew that these man-things had killed his father and they would kill him.

“Leave him there. He’ll find his way home. Come on.” The big one said, standing again and pulling the little one after him. They walked away, the little one looking over his shoulder all the while, waiting for him to do something. He stayed still.

“I’m sorry, baby bird,” the little one called back. “I’m real sorry ‘bout your dad.”

Long after they were gone and he heard no more man sounds in the forest, he finally left his hiding place and approached his fallen father. A light breeze blew across him and his feathers, now all a mess, moved slightly. The rest of him did not. He was gone. This was no longer his father.

He noticed the light dimming and took wing, circling once, twice then three times over the clearing as he climbed to find the air current that would let him glide home. In the sunless dusk he soon lost sight of the thing that was once his father. And then the breeze lifted him and he began soaring towards the mountainside.

As he rose up to his giant nest in the giant tree, he thought of his mother and his brother and wondered what made them whole and what his father’s feathers and beak and claw had lost.

And that was his first thought of his own soul.


Thanks for reading and Happy Father's Day,

Off to write or watch the U.S. Open.

Casey

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