This one shot was inspired by a dream. It was beautiful and macabre with meaning. I just loved it. When dreams like this happen, I can’t wait to share them and write out the despair for everyone else to feel. It’s not a suspenseful thriller like I usually have, or a mild horror for once. However, to me, it feels like it’s the out-of-reach happiness and uncomfortable. My kind of story.
It was dark and cool while the wind blew gently across the enclosed town. Felix sat on the hillside to watch the kites lull about the sky. The dance between wind currents was entrancing. How the string-less kites frolicked about, weaving up, down, around, and through each other. How such free-spirited creatures played whimsically above the bland and boring town was perplexing to her.
Yet, here they were day in and day out. Some came and went, never to return while the others stayed above the town for years in the clouds above. It was a kind of magic Felix admired. Although, it was not a typically shared feeling for the rest of the residents in town.
The town was a cold and sheltered place filled with narrow-minded elders. Their mindset was battered into their minds as young children until they became just as narrow. Felix fought the pressure, wishing for something different. If only she could be as free as the kites.
Despite her wish, she also knew the dangers of being a kite. Glancing down across the town’s roof-tops, Felix spotted the few captured kites. Sadly they pulled at the strings attached to their backs, unable to escape. The wind was less joyful to them, almost painfully so. The captured kites bobbed pitifully with their restraints, lowering close to the ground ever so slowly.
Felix despised the folks for this barbaric practice. Each time a kite was caught and bound to a rope, it would slow them down to a dull float. All the life was sucked out of them and eventually they would collapse to the ground. It was sad to witness.
Standing up with a heavy sigh, Felix brushed at the back of her pants. The night had deepened into a dark gloomy haze, blocking the sight of the playful kites in the sky. Without the sweet visions of freedom, sitting on a cold, mundane hillside no longer had a point.
Making the trek back towards her home, she took one lingering look at the horizon past the fence line. What kind of life lived beyond the barricade?
The sound of a cloth tearing sharply caught her attention nearby. Felix gasped, startled by the sound. Over at the nearby fence line was a faltering kite. Its wing had caught the sharp edge of the fence as it plummeted to the base of the hill.
Without hesitation, Felix ran towards it. It took all her leg power to keep from tumbling down the hill from the slightest stumble. She needed to get to the kite post haste. If someone had seen the kite descend, it would be captured with no remorse. Felix mustn’t allow it to happen.
Breaking past a small line of bushes, Felix scanned the ground for the poor creature. It had landed somewhere in the small park, but with the gloomy haze rolling in, it was hard to see the earthy-toned kite. Taking a few steps forward, a small voice called out to her.
“Looking for the kite?”
Felix yelped, grabbing at her chest with a shake. Standing not far from her was a girl her age. She wore a small, dark dress with white puffs on the shoulder. Her pale hair was held back with a plain black band, framing her pale face with dark circled eyes. The girl wore a hollow expression, one Felix knew very well. All the townspeople shared the same expression. Felix knew this girl just like she knew every person in town.
She appeared out of nowhere one day much like several others in town. With no way in or out of the fence, it was always a mystery. Felix licked her dried lips, catching her breath and settling her fast-beating heart.
“W-what kite? I didn’t see any. You must be mistaken.”
Felix stammered, turning back to the park to look around desperately. She needed to protect the kite now that Kindrei showed up. Others would be short to follow. A small flutter of cloth caught Felix’s eye as she started speed walking.
“I know you saw it. You watch the clouds each night on that hillside. The moment it fell, you bolted down here.”
Felix looked over her shoulder nervously with no pause. “You were watching me?”
Kindrei fluttered her eyes with surprise. “W-well, not really. I was walking home when I spotted you.”
Felix chuckled wearily, picking up her pace towards the kite. “So watching me.”
The kite flittered on the ground, trying to take flight. This time it was in clear view to both her and Kindrei. Felix bolted, racing against unknown predators.
“Are you going to string it?!” Kindrei cried out after Felix. Something in her voice made her stop. Panting, she watched the poor creature on the ground attempt to launch off with no success. Determination filled her heart. Someone needs to protect it.
Felix turned, facing Kindrei with a bold puffed chest. “No. I’m going to save it.”
The small glint of emotion behind Kindrei’s eyes was replaced by shock. She stood unmoving, almost frozen from the surprise. Felix took advantage of the moment, finishing the gap between them and the kite. Kneeling beside the creature, Felix hovered her hands over the top of the kite’s body. This was the first time she had seen it up close like this.
The kite’s body was smooth with microfiber scales. From a distance it looked rough like cotton, giving a shirt-like appeal. Upon closer inspection, the shape of the kite mimicked a long koi fish. The fins were long and flowing leaving a trail of long slender strands of cloth. To Felix’s surprise, it had a glossy shine to it. The body was hollow and see-through to allow air to pass easily within. Lowering her hands gingerly towards the kite’s body, she offered a soft hush to the creature
“Shhh, little one. It’s ok. I want to help you.”
Despite her attempt to relax the wounded kite, it panicked worse than before. It flailed wildly below her hands, trying to escape. With fast reflexes, Felix snatched at its body. Although it was a hallow creature, the structure of the kite was a strong shell. It would not bend no matter how much pressure she applied. Was it made from some kind of magical bone or thin wood paper? It rattled in her hands, unable to fight its way out of Felix’s grasp.
Standing up slowly with her arms at full distance, Felix waited for the creature to settle down. Its fins and tail flicked a few times more before settling into a peaceful flow with the wind. It was incredible how beautiful this creation was. Felix now understood the reason people strove to catch and string the creatures. Holding it close to her body, Felix offered it a small comforting hug.
“It’s ok little fella. You’ll be back into the sky in no time.”
Timid footsteps behind her pulled her attention back to the girl nearby. Felix turned defensively towards Kindrei. With Narrow eyes, she waited apprehensively for an attack. It never came. Instead, she stood still and stared back at her with unreadable eyes.
“Are you going to fight me for it?”
Felix relaxed, still keeping her guard. She didn’t trust Kindrei. Yet. Looking down at the koi kite, Kindrei pointed at the body.
“It has a cut in the fabric.”
Felix leaned over the kite to look. The gash was long and jagged. No blood was present since there were no insides. How was she going to fix it? Felix shot her eyes up at Kindrei.
“You wouldn’t happen to know how to fix it would you?”
With equal suspicion, Kindrei tilted her head. “Are you actually going to release it back to the sky?”
“Yes. I think it’s cruel otherwise to keep such a free creature. Why would I want to trap it here?”
“Why would you care so much for it? No one else does.”
Felix got quite mad at her words. “Just because everyone in this town is heartless, doesn’t mean I want to be.”
Stomping past Kindrei, Felix headed home. The small doll-like girl gapped at her a moment before falling in behind her to follow. Felix glanced at her, keeping a steady pace. Just because she held the kite, didn’t mean someone wouldn’t fight her for it. Felix wanted to make it home quickly to hide the poor thing.
“When are you going to release it?”
Felix bit at her lip. She had not thought that far ahead. “In a few days is the wind festival, I’ll release it then. Most people usually show off their stringed kites so no one will question me if I try to throw it to the sky from the hill.”
Kindrei light up. It was strange to see her smile since she had never done so in the past. No one ever did.
“Can I join you too?”
Felix smirked. “Only if you aren’t going to stop me.”
“I can bring a kite, too.”
The more they spoke on their way home, the better Felix felt about the estranged girl. Maybe they could become closer friends. It would be nice to share a secret with someone whom she could trust. Felix could hardly wait for the festival.
The day arrived, blowing fierce winds throughout the town. Dressed and ready, Felix held the repaired kite tightly against her chest. It was a challenge to allow the poor thing to fly about freely in her room without having to bind it down. There was a hook on its back that Felix could have done so, but fear that the string would never come off again dissuaded her.
The hillside came into view alongside Kindrei. She stood in her dress with the white puffy arms. Her hair was in pig-tails this time with a black beret sitting in the middle. Felix frowned. She looked even more like a doll than before.
Running up to her side, they smiled at each other before heading up the hill together. Felix noticed a small kite under Kindrei’s arm. It had several misshapen cube blocks stacked on top of each other in different sizes. Felix had never seen something like it before. Though, there were always strange wild kites of different kinds. You would rarely ever see the same style twice.
At the top of the hill, the wind blew consistently. It was a perfect day to release the koi kite. With one last look at the fish, Felix kissed its cheek.
“Farewell. Fly strong and don’t get caught again.”
The kite only flicked its tail anxiously in response. It wanted to fly free, not stay for goodbyes. Chuckling, Felix gripped its belly tight. With a small run and powerful throw, Felix flung the kite hard into the gust of wind. It took off in a frenzy, swishing hard into the air like water. Without looking back, it floated off into the distance.
Felix shed a small tear, feeling silly at the parting. Turning to Kindrei, she looked at the small kite.
“Your turn. Did you save this one too?”
Kindrei didn’t respond. With a solemn stare, Kindrei pulled forward the kite. Her distance eyes almost seemed to stare past the kite’s presence. With a weak grip, she tossed the lifeless shell into the wind. It fluttered in the wind a moment before hurtling to the ground off the hillside. Felix gasped.
“Don’t worry, let me help!”
Taking off before Kindrei could reply, she chased the kite to pick it up. It felt strange holding the empty shell. Felix could tell immediately something was off. Refusing to acknowledge it, Felix tried with all her might to throw the kite into the wind. It fell back to the ground with a heavy thud a few feet away.
Felix cried out in frustration. She wasn’t going to give up. Kindrei called out, her voice carrying in the wind after her.
“Stop. It’s not going to fly.”
Felix grabbed the kite once more, this time running hard down the hill.
“Felix! Stop! It’s a flightless kite!”
“Never! I’ll help you get it to fly! It can be free!”
Felix jumped, holding the kite high up in the air above her. It refused to take off, hardly leaving her hand like a rock. Kindrei chased after her, this time yelling angrily.
“It’s not going to work! It’s flightless now!”
Not accepting the truth, Felix ran the full length of the hill down. With one last final leap, Felix cried out with a hard throw. Her tears streamed down her face as she watched the kite land with a thud on the ground before tumbling. Flipping and rolling over herself, Felix fought to flatten herself out on the flat part of the hill.
Cut and bruised, Felix hissed in pain. Kindrei held her skirt up while she ran, stopping short close by. With fists full of her dress, she threw it down in front of her with a huff.
“I told you! It’s Flightless! Once a kite is bound, it will never fly again! Why didn’t you listen to me!”
Felix pushed herself up, wiping the tears from her eyes. Why was Kindrei so angry?
“I thought I could give its freedom back…”
“Stupid! Once someone takes their freedom, they can never return to the sky! They are bound to the ground like humans are!”
Felix stood up, stepping closer to Kindrei. “Listen, I just-“
“No! You are just as blind as the rest of them! You saved one, but you can’t save them all.”
With a turn Kindrei began to stomp off, leaving Felix behind at the hill. With a sudden realization, Felix grabbed at Kindrei’s arm. With a hard tug, she pulled her back.
“W-what are you-” Kindrei’s voice was filled with fear at the sharp tug.
Felix forced Kindrei to turn around and reached out to the middle of her back. Before Kindrei could escape her touch, Felix felt a hard round hoop. Kindrei froze. It all made sense now.
“You… are a flightless kite…”
The howling wind was all that spoke for a long time. Felix dropped her arm to her side and waited patiently. She did not think anything differently of Kindrei. Instead, she adored her more. Finally, Kindrei spoke the silence.
“Stringed kites don’t die when they are bound. They lose their freedom here instead.”
Felix finally understood. They were forever trapped because they could never leave. No one ever could.