Flying Lessons: An Annie Story
Annie always had vivid dreams, many of them nightmares that included being chased by nebulous horrors including spiders. One dream, in particular though, was so pleasant, so exciting that it spilled into her daytime.
Even now, in retrospect, she smiles as she remembers it fondly. Simply put, she and the neighborhood kids were playing tag in the neighbor’s back yard. Phil, an older boy, was “it” and he was chasing after all of them trying to catch one of them when he suddenly focused on Annie. Annie couldn’t run as fast as Phil. Even running as fast as she could, she knew she would be caught; it was just a matter of time, but she ran and ran until she stepped on a shingle lying on the ground. Suddenly, Annie lifted off the ground and was flying as Phil and the other kids gawked at her from below. It was freeing as she floated fifteen, twenty feet above them all. She felt so excited when she slowly landed well beyond her friends, and they came running up to her asking how she did it.
“I just ran really fast; I hit that shingle, and then I was in the air,” she said.
“Do it again,” they all said, and she did, but it wasn’t as easy this time. She found out through practice, though, that if she got her speed up, she could fly. Even better and easier was crawling out of the second floor bathroom window and jumping off the roof. From there, she would fall downwards until she took flight flying over her house and the neighborhood. Over and over again, she flew…that is, until she awoke.
The next day, the dream still firmly in her mind and fueling her imagination, she decided to learn to fly. But how to do it? The obvious solution was to follow her example in the dream, but Annie wasn’t willing to jump off the roof quite yet. She decided to start small by jumping from the swing set. Climbing from the teeter totter to the crossbar of the swing set, she stood about four feet off the ground.
The goal was to hone her flying skills by jumping past a blue spruce, which was about five feet out from the bar of the swing set. Flying forwards, backwards, and turning in the air while landing on her feet were a few of the skills Annie required of herself before she attempted the next challenge, which was to fly past a silver maple more than fifteen feet away. If she could do that, she knew that she’d be able to fly. However, getting onto this crossbar took a different skill. At this end, there was no teeter totter; there was only a swing which swayed when stepped on. Thus, it became necessary for Annie to use rudimentary gymnastic skills to kip onto the bar and then pull herself up before standing for take-off.
Being nearly two years older, Annie was so enthusiastic about the prospect of flying that she even convinced her younger sister Carrie as well as Teri and Carol, a couple of neighborhood friends, to take flying lessons from her. Soon, all of them were taking flight past the blue spruce, passing all the challenges that she had set for herself before graduating to the other bar. Passing the silver maple wasn’t easy, and jump after jump fell well short of the mark. Soon, the novelty wore off for her students, and they returned to more exciting summer pursuits like playing hide-n-go seek, tag, kickball, and Barbie dolls.
Annie reluctantly joined them, but she continued to practice her flying lessons whenever she could. Over time, Annie got closer to the silver maple, even once within five feet, but she never managed to take flight except in her dreams.