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Adventure Fiction

Fly away. Fly away. Those are the words that hummed in my head and would stick with me forever.

I took a good look at the winding stone path in front of me which was surrounded by a rolling expanse of bright green. Groups of flowers dotted the landscape and a flock of squawking birds flew over the blue horizon. In the back of my mind, I thought of all the memories from so long ago - the memories that would help me get through this journey.

Taking a final look back I said my mental goodbyes to the rocky path leading up from civilization. I could feel the hard stone path of my first few steps through my thick, leathery boots. My backpack flopped around with only a few things bouncing around from within. Every now and then I walked on the spongy grass next to the path, and the suction of my foot lifting from the surface made a wet, sloshy sound. Thankfully, the storm clouds from earlier had dispersed into a messy pattern to the east. 

I walked an hour on this beautiful trail, taking in every detail of my surroundings and snapping a few photos with my disposable camera. I was even so lucky as to capture the picture of a jack rabbit in mid hop only fifteen yards away. A photo that I would certainly frame and treasure forever. I had not even broken a sweat or felt the need to eat or drink but slung off my pack and leaned against a mossy boulder.

Fly away. Taking one of my hands out of its hiker gloves, I traced my fingers along the cold, rough surface. I like to imagine that you were here with me now as you were all those years ago. It may very well have been this same exact spot that we had once stopped at together. 

Marching up a rock strewn hill, the memories flooded back. At the top there had been a loose rock I had ventured on so long ago only to have it wiggle off the ledge beneath me and nearly send me to my death into the jagged valley below. But you grabbed me by the waist and pulled me to safety. One of my little hiking boots had slipped off and fell during the excitement, so you let me ride up on your shoulders the rest of the way. I felt a chill run past my spine as I stared down at the valley of rocks. This time I was careful not to step on a loose stone.

Then I approached the spot on the trail that made tears well up in my eyes. The trail split off in two opposite directions that looked identical to the other as far as the eye could see - more of the same hilly light green grass. When we had approached this same spot, I remember you joking, if you see a fork in the road, take it. My confused child brain did not comprehend that quote from a famous baseball player, Yogi Berra, who played for the team you loved, the Yankees. I responded, what fork in the road? We have to choose which way we’re gonna go! I distinctly recall you allowing me to choose which way we were going to go and it being the correct way, but for the life of me I cannot remember which way that was.

So in this current moment, contemplating my two options while inhaling the same, cool pine-smelling air, I made up my mind and decided to go left. I would not leave it up to chance even though I had a coin in my pocket that could have easily decided for me. For the first few hundred yards, each ridge I teetered on spilled into a deep valley. That same pattern continued until I finally approached a stream and a thick cluster of bushes that the trail seemed to disappear into. This was definitely not familiar.

Fly away. Fly away. Fly away. I knew exactly what you meant by that. When life grabs you by the throat, you grab it by the balls and don’t let go. You said that part to me when I was quite a bit older.

Pushing my way through the thick shrubbery, twigs snapped and thorns burrowed into me. But nothing was going to deter me from this adventure no matter what path I was on. Even if there was no path at all. I traveled alongside the stream, watching its downward flow spilling across the rocks and carrying with it leaves and moss. My breathing became labored and I had to stop with my hands on my knees. It felt like I was sucking air in through a straw.

Then I saw a blue triangular object resting against a jagged rock hanging off the mountain side. I headed that way and had to fight through more thick brush. A large aluminum hang glider was positioned and ready for takeoff. A man approached and gave me a suspicious look. I returned it with a friendly smile and small step back.

“Are you okay?” He said.

“Just a little lost,” I said. “I’ll be fine.”

He gave some a few nervous looks toward the edge of the cliff and then back to me.

“Okay, I’m really lost,” I admitted.

“Look,” the man said. “My buddy is down there and is expecting me to glide down there also. I know the way back. If you use this hang glide, it will take you right where you need to go.”

“Why won’t you go?” I asked.

“I’m afraid, okay?”

“Of what?”

“That I’ll… hit the side of the mountain, or crash into a tree, or fall to my death. I’ve never done it before.”

“Me neither,” I said. “Give it here.”

It felt like an hour before I finally got all the straps and harnesses secured to my body. The man helped me secure most of them, but then he said his goodbyes before disappearing into the growing darkness.

I took a deep breath and pondered all the memories we made together in this same mountain range. Saying a prayer that this wouldn’t be my final adventure, I leaped off the edge and glided into the dusk. At first, the sail tugged to the side until I assumed control and guided it forward with a tight grip on the bar. I made a slow and leisurely decent toward the spot where our adventure had come to an end, the spot where I would’ve ended up had I turned right at the fork. The spot where you said the words that are as fresh in my memory as the day you spoke them. Some day you will have an adventure of your own and when you do, fly away, boy. Fly away.

January 18, 2023 08:12

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1 comment

11:38 Jan 30, 2023

Nice walk through the narrator's memories of a time they cherish, and someone they love. Well done!


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