Airborne-Chapter 1

There he was, all twelve years of him, standing on top of the roof of his one-story house. He had a red cape, which he probably got from an old Halloween costume, tied around his neck, and it was flowing and flapping in the wind. On his face he wore his swimming goggles, which were a shade of blue and seemed a little too big for his face. Being on top of a one-story house, he wasn’t too high off the ground, but for a twelve-year-old it seemed like he was on top of the world. He walked back a few steps and then forward to the edge of the roof as if he was calculating the distance with great care. He did this several times in order to get the distance and the number of steps exactly right. He finally took his final steps back and with his hands gripping his red cape on the sides he ran and jumped off the roof as if he was hoping to fly.
Ken was walking to his car to go to work, all prim and proper in his suit and tie, all pressed and neat as can be. With his hand on the handle of the door he looked up and caught a glimpse of Ally jumping off the roof.
“Oh, my God!” Ken gasped in shock and terror.
Dropping his keys and briefcase, Ken ran to the door that led to the backyard of Ally’s house. He struggled to get the door open in his shock and impatience. He reached behind the door on his tiptoes with his arm reaching as far as he could, trying to find the latch to unlatch the rather large door. Finally unlatching the door in the back, he shoved the door open and ran quickly to see what had happened to Ally. Stumbling into the backyard and trying to catch his breath, Ken appeared on a scene of little Ally jumping up and down on his large backyard trampoline, cape and all. It seemed that Ally had the trampoline set up as a safety net in case he wasn’t able to fly this time.
“Hi, Mr. Conner,” said Ally jumping up and down on the trampoline. “What are you doing in my backyard?”
“Ally, why did you jump from the roof?” asked Ken trying to catch his breath.
“I was trying to fly,” said Ally. “I think that if I keep trying, I’ll be able to do it one day. One day I’m gonna fly to the land next to the sun.”
Oblivious to Ally’s strange response and baffled as to what he was doing on the roof by himself, Ken began to ask himself how in the world Ally got up there in the first place.
“Where’s your mom, Ally?”
“She went to work early this morning.”
Ally’s mother usually left Ally by himself when she went to work. Being a single mom and unable to hire a babysitter, in desperation she just made some rules for Ally to keep while she was away.
1. Never answer the door.
2. Do not play outside.
3. Do not answer the phone. If it’s mom, she’ll leave a message.
4. If there’s an emergency, call 911.
5. Food is in the fridge.
However, Ally didn’t really like to follow the rules when it came to boredom. Being left alone so often Ally developed ways to make his days more memorable and fun. Like jumping off the roof and trying to fly, for example.
“That’s a very dangerous thing you were trying to do, Ally,” Ken said trying his best to be authoritative. Being a young, single professional, and without any real contact with kids, he really had no idea how to interact with children. So it sounded more like Ken was speaking very slowly trying to get Ally to understand.
“You really could have hurt yourself really bad by jumping off the roof. And you really shouldn’t be playing outside by yourself. A stranger could come along and kidnap you.”
For some reason Ken thought that using the word “really” would really make an emphasis on his points. Standing back, he thought to himself, I probably shouldn’t have said anything about kidnapping and stuff. I probably scared him now and he’ll probably be traumatized for life. Trying to lighten the situation Ken started asking Ally when his mom would be home.
“Around five o’clock,” Ally said. “You really didn’t have to come to check up on me, Mr. Conner. I’m twelve-years-old. I know what I’m doing.”
“Um. Okay, Ally. Uh…I’m gonna go now,” Ken said taken aback by Ally’s statement, and motioning toward the large door that led out to the driveway. “You be careful now. Okay, Ally? Just give me a holler if you need anything. I’m right next door,” Ken said remembering later that he’d be at work for most of the day.
“Okay,” Ally said.
He waved goodbye to Ken with a little smirk on his face. As Ken left, he saw Ally jumping up and down on the trampoline again, trying out his flips. And, at one point, he was trying to jump as high as he could.


Ken got into his car worried about if Ally would be alright by himself. After a moments thought, he glanced at his watch and realized that he was late for work, which made him completely forget about the mornings incident. He peeled out of the driveway in reverse and hit the accelerator with great force in order to get a good jumpstart of speed for the drive ahead. Off he went, anxious and nervous about being late and wondering what his boss was going to say when he got there. At the same time Ken was thinking of 101 excuses to give his boss as a reason for being late. I didn’t hear my alarm; or I ran into some car trouble on the way; or how about, I was trying to save a kid who I thought jumped off the roof. How’s that sound? On and on, Ken thought about his circumstance with dread and horror.
Parking the car and being a nervous wreck of a man, Ken failed to put the gearshift in P. Without knowing what had happened he struggled to remove the key from the ignition with no success. In his frustration, Ken pulled and tugged, started the car and turned it off all in an attempt to remove the key from the ignition but to no avail.
“This can’t be happening. Not now,” Ken said sounding like he was going to cry. He sighed and slammed his head against the steering wheel, and glancing down he caught sight of the gearshift still in D.
Ken thrust the gearshift into P and yanked the key from the ignition. He slammed the door and set the car alarm—Beep, beep!—and off he went mumbling words of frustration and self-loathing to himself.
“Pull it together, Ken,” Ken said to himself dusting his suit and fixing his tie after the morning’s events. He inhaled deeply through his nose and exhaled slowly through his mouth as he stood in front of the doors of his office building. A slightly calmer Ken entered the building of 500 Walnut Lane.


“Good morning, Ken,” one of his coworkers said.
“Good morning,” Ken said clearing his throat to hide his embarrassment. He walked quickly to get to his desk, keeping his head down so as not to make eye contact with anyone.
Over and over again Ken was met with a variety of good mornings from his coworkers. He hoped that no one had noticed that he was late, but somehow, when you’re late, you know that everyone knows and that everyone is thinking about it.
Ken made it to his desk without any questions about why he was late. He was finally able to relax feeling relieved that no one seemed to have noticed or that no one bothered to ask.
“Dude, what happened? Why are you so late? It’s not like you to be late, Ken,” Billy said.
I spoke too soon, Ken thought, agitated because now he had to come up with some story that would explain his tardiness. Why did blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Billy have to open the slick mouth on his Abercrombie model face? For a guy whose only claim to fame in this company was his dashing good looks, he sure had a way of placing himself as judge and executioner in the company. Billy has been Ken’s coworker for about 6 months now. Besides being a total Frat-boy, he rarely does anything right when it comes to his job. It’s believed that the only reason why Billy is still on board is because the boss digs him.
“Hey, Billy. Man, you wouldn’t believe it if I told you,” Ken said, hoping that Billy would let it go.
“Try me.”
“Well…” Ken said slowly, trying to decide whether to make up a story or to just tell Billy the truth. He thought, why not, and began to tell Billy the truth.
“I was walking out of my house today and I saw the kid next door jump from the roof of his house. I was so startled that I ran to his backyard to see what happened to him. Man, I was scared out of my mind wondering what I would find in the backyard. I thought I was gonna see blood and the boy’s body lying there. But as soon as I got back there, the kid was jumping on his trampoline. He said that he was trying to fly or something.” Ken spoke with excitement, as the morning’s event was still fresh on his mind. During his retelling of the story, Ken remembered the odd phrase Ally had said about flying to the world next to the sun. I wonder what he meant by that, Ken thought to himself as Billy started talking.
“Dude, that’s crazy! Man, I don’t know what I would have done if I saw that happening. That’s just crazy! What a crazy kid. Dude, he’s gotta have a couple screws loose or something. That’s just crazy!” Billy said. Billy was laughing and displaying a great deal of enthusiasm for Ken’s story. A couple of more That’s just crazy’s, and you probably would have caught Billy’s thoughts about Ken’s story.
However, Ken didn’t notice Billy’s enthusiasm for his story or paid much attention to what was being said. Ken was in deep thought about Ally’s little phrase. He began to wonder why he didn’t catch it earlier and if Ally really was a little troubled.
“Dude, Ken. Are you there?” Billy said.
“What? Yeah. Yeah. I was just…Yeah, crazy isn’t it? Yeah. So that’s my story,” Ken said.
He tried to keep the conversation going without Billy going around thinking he was weird or something. Billy sat back satisfied, as if he was told a great story and given some cookies and milk before bed. Ken, on the other hand, seemed lost in space as he pondered some more about Ally’s statement.


“Ken, could I see you in my office?” Ken’s boss didn’t seem too happy about his tardiness.
“Sure.” Ken dropped what he was doing and walked with his boss to his office.
“Ken, I’ve just been worried about you lately,” said Karen, a petite brunette whose size shouldn’t fool you. She’s quite the strong woman who can make you feel like a dwarf from the gaze of her eyes. She’s been Ken’s boss for over 5 years now at the design firm. Always positive and motivational until you started messing around and slacking at your work. Then she’d give you one of those “talks” and you would feel like a little child, swaying back and forth with your head down, who has been asked to say sorry. Ken thought that he was in for one of those talks at the moment.
“I’m sorry I was late today,” Ken said. “It’s just been a crazy morning.”
“You were late?” Karen asked. She hadn’t noticed because she was in a conference call all morning with the higher-ups.
Crap, Ken thought to himself because he just gave himself away. He should have kept his mouth shut and this meeting would have been over in a jiffy.
“Well, fine. You were late. You don’t have to give me an excuse for that. But what I wanted to ask is, is there something going on in your life that I should know about? Ken, you just haven’t been your passionate self lately. Your work has been good, but I don’t see that creative edge anymore, the creative edge that we need in this company.”
There it was. Ken shrank to the size of a six-year-old and out came his hesitant reply.
“No, no. Ken, this isn’t one of my ‘talks.’ Well, the reason why I brought you in here was to ask you if you wanted to take a break. Clear your head from whatever is going on so you can come back refreshed. Go find your inspiration, will you? Go to Hawaii or Rome or wherever. I want you to take a break, Ken,” Karen said with a sincerity in her voice that Ken immediately noticed.
“Um…” Ken began to reply without knowing what he was going to say. “Ok. Fine. Sweet. I guess I can go now?” Ken looked up and saw Karen nod.
He began to walk out the door then he stopped and turned around and asked, “How long can I take?”
“Just call me the day before you decide to come back. Just promise me you’ll be back with a chest full of ideas.”
“Um…Ok. Then, I guess I’ll be seeing you. Chest full of ideas. Got it,” Ken repeated with a nervous wave goodbye and a nervous walk out the door as if he was waiting for Karen to change her mind.
Ken got to his desk a bit worried but at the same time relieved that he didn’t have to come to the office for a while. He grabbed his briefcase and started toward the elevator when he ran into Billy who was coming from the bathroom.
“Dude, where you going?”
“I’m going home.”
“What? Did you get fired or something?”
“Nope. I’m taking a vacation as of today.”
“No way. Lucky!” Billy said with jealousy.
“I know,” Ken said with a slight grin on his face. “I’ll see you when I get back,” Ken said making his way to the elevator door. Billy stood stunned and puzzled for a while and then headed back to his desk with his head down like a jealous kid pouting, That’s not fair!
Ken pressed the button for down. He waited thinking about what he was going to do for the next few days. He entered the elevator and as the doors began to close, you could see that Ken had a tiny grin on his face.

Airborne-Chapter 1


Joined February 2008

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