Flights of Fancy

This is a little scene depicting Ilya spending time with his children.  He didn’t meet them until they were eleven years old.  It was inspired by a photo prompt from NaNoWriYe’s DreamWidth.

I tried to do a little research on kite flying when I was writing it.  My only experience with actually flying a kite didn’t end well.

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“I’m no good at this,” Henryk said, as he followed his sister and Ilya out to the large open field. Ilya frowned slightly and he shrugged. “Mama took us to fly them a few times, but… all mine did was crash.”

“I’ll see if we can’t get your kite flying,” Ilya said, his voice soft. He glanced over at Henryk. “If you find, after giving it a real try, that you aren’t having fun, we’ll just go and get ice cream.”

Henryk frowned at him and then sighed. “All right,” he said, finally. However, he couldn’t seem to muster any enthusiasm. He didn’t know how to get the kite into the air. No matter how steady the wind was – even when people all around him were flying kites, his always stayed stubbornly grounded.

When they reached the field, a few other people were already there with their parents. Some people were having picnics. Others were playing catch. A few were holding the ends of long lines, as their kites soared high overhead.

“I’ll help you first, Henryk,” Ilya said, his voice soft. Henryk had noticed that he always spoke softly. Then, he looked at Zofia and smiled. “Once we’ve got Henryk started, I’ll help you.”

“All right, Papa,” Zofia said.

Ilya gave her a smile and ruffled her hair. Then, he took Henryk’s kite. “You hold the line, with the wind blowing onto your back,” he said. As he marched out into the field, Henryk scowled. This wasn’t how he’d ever launched a kite. Weren’t you supposed to run with it?

As Ilya turned to face him, he said, “Take the slack off the line, Henryk. Then, draw it in as I release it and it should climb.”

Henryk nodded. He did as Ilya said. As soon as the man raised the kite and Henryk saw him release it, he began winding the line in. His eyes widened as the kite slowly rose higher and higher. “It’s flying,” he breathed.

“Do me, do me,” Zofia said, bouncing up and down excitedly.

Ilya ran to them and smiled at Henryk. “Keep a close eye on it. If it starts to tug too much walk forward a bit. Don’t let it get too high,” he said.

Henryk nodded, his eyes going back towards the kite. Beside him, Zofia was laughing as Ilya helped her get her kite airborne as well. A moment later, Ilya had returned to their sides. He talked them through how to get the kites to do loops and twirls in the air without getting tangled or crashing.

Finally, Ilya said, “Is that the time?” He sighed.   “Let’s get them down,” he said. He caught Henryk’s line and said, “Hold it still and I’ll walk your kite down.”

“Yes, sir,” Henryk said, blinking. He watched, in amazement, as Ilya walked down the line, slowly drawing the kite towards the ground. As he reached the end of the line, where the kite was, he plucked it out of the air and turned to face Henryk. He motioned with his hand in a circular motion.

Nodding, Henryk began winding the kite’s string up once again. When he was finished, Ilya repeated the action with Zofia’s kite. Only when both of them were holding their kites, did Henryk notice that there were tears in Ilya’s eyes. “Why are you crying?” he said.

Ilya shook his head. “It’s foolish of me,” he said. “I just… I was remembering my father teaching me how to fly a kite, when I was just the age you are.” He shrugged. “Never mind,” he said. “Let’s get some ice cream.”

“Thanks, Papa,” Zofia said, catching his hand in hers.

Henryk hesitated for a moment, before taking Ilya’s other hand. “I’m not sure how long it’ll be before I’m comfortable calling you… Papa,” he said. Then, he smiled faintly. “But I think you’re a good guy. Thanks for teaching us how to fly the kites.”

“You are very welcome, Henryk,” Ilya said, his voice soft.

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