The Flight of the Red Kite

red kite in cloudy skyIt was midday, but feeling tired and somewhat upset about the condition of the world, I was reading in my bedroom when, for some reason, I looked out the window and saw a large red kite drifting by. Not so strange in itself, but, instead of various ribbons dangling from the kite’s tail, there was a row of bats. Their wings were calmly folded and the bats were just hanging on the kite’s tail. I looked more closely at the kite, which was the traditional shape, and realized there was a face painted on it. It was my face in repose–almost a death mask. Shuddering, I went downstairs to see who was flying the kite, but when I looked out, I saw the kite string was attached to a dead apple tree whose broken branches seemed like hands reaching to heaven.

A cold feeling crept up to my neck; I walked over and undid the string from the tree. Just then, the bats unfolded their wings and began to flap them wildly. A strong wind began to blow and before I knew it, I was lifted off my feet and the ground fell away rapidly. Before I could react, I was too high to let go of the string and I prayed it would not break.

My unexpected St. George flight was short, although it seemed an eternity; the wind died, the bats quit flapping their wings and I plummeted toward the earth. I let go of the kite string and fell into a small lake where, after plunging underwater, I surfaced and watched as the red kite drifted away.  The bats, having done their job, let go of the string and flew off together. I started swimming for the shore but, no matter how hard I swam, I got no closer. My arms became heavy and I realized I might drown.

I was startled when I felt a nudge on my shoulder and looked behind me to see a flat,yellow skiff.  There was no one in it and there were no oars, so I clambered aboard, relieved to be out of the water. The breeze had died and yet the boat seemed to be moving on its own.  I tried paddling toward the shore, but my arms soon grew tired again and I lay there looking up at the sky and the dwindling sight of the red kite. Given the spectacle of the bats, I imagined that under the water there were hundreds of golden eels pushing, carrying, and towing the boat.

I had eaten a good breakfast but, for some reason, I suddenly became very hungry and thirsty. Looking around the bottom of the boat I saw a covered picnic basket and, when I opened it, I found a bottle of wine and some biscuits and cheese.

What if it’s poisoned? I thought. It had been a strange day so far, but I was as yet unharmed, so I proceeded to take a drink from the bottle and to chew on a hunk of yellow cheese and a biscuit.

My apprehension diminished somewhat when I felt no bad effects from the food and drink–only the feeling of lassitude that often precedes a nap. The warm sun and the gentle motion of the boat soon lulled me to sleep.

I do not know how long I slept, but when I awoke, the motion of the boat had stopped and it was beached near a small glen. I didn’t know where I was, but it could not be far from my home. I got out of the boat and decided to explore the area. I soon found a narrow path and as I walked along I looked around expecting to find something strange, but the plants bordering the path were the normal weeds and vines that one expects to find in the woods.

It had not been exactly a normal day so I was relieved that there were no more bats or kites or boats. After some minutes of walking, he path ended in another clearing and I saw a tall, stone wall covered with vines stretching out on either side. I walked along the wall searching for a gate, but found nothing.

Finally, after about an hour, I grew tired of searching and decided I would climb the wall. The vines were old and strong and looked like they would support my weight. I am not a strong man, but by resting in my climb several times I managed to pull myself up to the top of the wall.

Stretching out before me was a vast nothingness. No desert, no forest, no plain. Just a deep blue darkness as though it were the painted backdrop for a movie set or a play. There was no up nor down. There was no here nor there. I sensed that my journey had ended as all life’s journeys end.
Destiny’s slate is often bare.

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