Flight by Shane Ryan Bailey

Upon first boarding the airplane and getting buckled in, Cameron lectured his grandfather on the potential dangers that could occur during any flight: the plane's engine could die, or they could get struck by another passing aircraft, or the two of them could fly into a flock of migratory birds, forcing their bloody, feathered bodies to come crashing through the windshield and into their faces and laps. For a boy of eight years, he had a grim imagination. In the air, he eventually fell silent as he peered out the windows at the land below him and the clouds above. Up so high . . . in the sky . . . where the birdies fly.

The grandfather piloted the single-engine Cirrus above their hometown, causing the aircraft to dip and tilt, in an attempt to use one of the wings to point out the various structures he knew Cameron was familiar with but might not be able to recognize on his own from their high vantage point. There was his elementary school, the family church, and the community swimming pool,
appearing as a small blue rectangle, like one of the turquoise stones in his mother's favorite necklace. There was the house where he, his parents, and little brother lived. Alfie, looking like a yellow dot, could be seen running in the backyard, presumably chasing a rabbit. The two of them, old man and grandson, continued to circle above the village before heading back to the rural airstrip on the outskirts of town.

Back on the ground, Cameron could see his parents and little brother still standing on the runway where they had been when he had first taken off. His parents smiled and waved with one hand while holding their cameras with the other, recording the event: Cameron's special day with Grandpa and his first flight. Cameron smiled and waved back as his grandfather slowly pulled the plane closer to the family, eventually coming to a halt with the engine still humming. The old man leaned over to unbuckle the boy's seat belt. Cameron thanked his grandfather and prepared to get out of the aircraft until hearing him shout, "Stop! Go back! " His grandfather was looking out the window and motioning with his arm.

Cameron turned his head to see his little brother, having broken free from his parents, running to the plane with a look of excitement on his face. He also wanted to go up into the air. His parents stopped fussing with one of their cameras, noticed the boy had gotten away, and simultaneously rushed forward.

The little boy, smiling and laughing, ran into the propeller, thus releasing his spirit heavenward to travel the same aerial route his brother had just taken, rising up where he could see his family on the earth below, becoming smaller and smaller, until it seemed as if there was nothing left of them at all.

Previously published in Litbits

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