CONTENT WARNING: SUICIDE
Liam wanted to get his sister something nice. The diamond shaped kite took Theodore Penn eight and a half months to create. Every one of his kites had twisting wood spines, alluding to the knots he’d broken off and sanded smooth. It wasn’t their strange structures that promised flight but their pale linen sails.
The gift arrived at the lake house weeks after Morgan’s graduation. “It’s—beautiful,” said Morgan around excited breaths. She walked the silvery kite to the grassy field beside the lake house. The whipping air transformed the pale sail into something focused, sure of what it wanted.
Morgan inhaled the line’s earthy scent while the sail fought the current’s drag. The kite dipped delayed responses to Morgan’s gentle tugs on the string. Sometimes, Morgan felt the breeze tease her by shifting abruptly, sending her hands fumbling to rewind the slackened line. Other times, a high-voiced wind told her to loosen her fingers so the spool could unravel. The sail rose and fell, a visible reward for trusting the wind’s advice.
Once the sun slipped behind the tree line and the breeze quieted, she came inside with the kite hugged against her long torso.
“I think it’s normal to feel confused after all that school,” Liam said one night in response to her smile.
Morgan’s mouth straightened, and her breathing fell to match Liam’s slow rhythm.
“There are so many jobs to pick from,” Liam went on. “If you didn’t like one, you could find a new one and move on.”
Morgan spent most of her time outside until the breeze slipped out of reach. She tried whistling a stream of bland notes up to the wind. But unchanged by her invitation, the wind continued to pass high above, through the pale green treetops.
Then Morgan returned to her room, where the “get rid of pile” now covered her bed. She didn’t mind sleeping in the window seat, watching for signs of the wind picking up. In fact, she waved an arm out the window and longed for resistance—a breeze that would bang it into the house’s siding.
Morgan’s smiles were as absent as the wind. Liam encouraged her to get some fresh air. “Maybe you’ll find a new spot that’s gusty.”
Morgan sighed, straying farther from the house than she had before. And while she was out, Liam scoured the pile on her bed to confirm she still loved something. Photographs; jewelry; books; her stick horse. The kite was never in a pile, though. She always carried it.
Along the road, if she timed it right, Morgan could catch a current off the commute traffic. And when the stream of cars thinned, Morgan ran backward beside them to keep her rigid kite afloat for as long as possible. She stopped only to gasp for air and brush away pine needles and thorns that clung to the line.
After dark, Liam set out on his bike to find her. All of the cars were gone by then, and Morgan rested atop the sun-bleached asphalt.
To keep her soft of spirit, Liam hummed. He held the handlebars from the front while Morgan climbed onto the bike, wound the line around her long torso, and dropped the spool in her lap. Liam swiveled the handlebars towards their lake house.
Morgan pedaled down the hill, and Liam released the rippling fabric that begged to fly. The kite followed her wake. Morgan filled with a happiness so startling she clutched the brakes. The wind stopped with the bike, and the kite stumbled across the forest floor.
Liam assessed the kite’s damage. “I’ll go call Penn. Morgan, it’s just torn a bit in the corner—we’ll have it good as new before the wind picks up again.” He left her there with the wrecked little thing.
Holding her breath, Morgan wandered onto the dock for a better view of the shivering treetops. The kite slithered on the ground after her, causing the line around her stomach to shift.
Penn agreed to mend the damage on his beloved creation right away. Surely the news would earn another radiant smile from Morgan. But when Liam returned to the bike beside the restless lake, she wasn’t there.
The silvery kite was wedged between a water-logged dock pillar and plank. And below, Morgan’s dress billowed with the undercurrent, revealing glimpses of her pale skin.
30 July, 2022