“Learning to Fly”: A New Short Story by Stephen Parish
Posted by Stephen
I was about four or five when I jumped off the roof of the house.
My family lived in the double-wide trailer on two acres of land my parents purchased in Burgaw, North Carolina. Unexplored wilderness and an unkept field bordered the far reaches of the property. Snakes and other wildlife lived in these places, and my parents did not want me terrorizing the poor creatures. So, I mainly played in and immediately around the house. To keep me entertained while playing inside, they bought a Fisher Price playhouse that they assembled in my bedroom. I loved this house. I camped out in it many nights, and it served as a lair for action figures and stuffed animals.
During our few years living in Burgaw, my two younger brothers were newly born, so I had to entertain myself. And I had a wild imagination. The bathroom next to my bedroom surely had a monster that lived in the air vent. He hissed and grumbled at night. It’s true! Whenever I had to walk by the bathroom to get to my room, I would hurry passed the door. He surely was waiting for me, ready to leap out and eat me. My parents always wondered why I used their bathroom.
Monsters aside, most of my solitary adventures were inspired from movies I had seen. I watched Peter Pan frequently. And when I say frequently, I mean every day. Every. Day. After every viewing, I would pretend to be Peter Pan and fly around the house, rescuing Wendy and battling the villainous Captain Hook (and his evil monster in my bathroom air vent). Other repeated inspirations came from The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I don’t remember any adventures, but I faintly recall a pair of pajamas that I’m sure I insisted I wear every night. Every. Night.
But no adventure was quite as fun as the one after I saw Mary Poppins. As I had a habit of repeatedly watching the same movie to no exhaustive end, I don’t recall if this adventure followed the first or hundredth time I had seen the film. But my little precocious mind had one goal—fly! So, I grabbed an umbrella and headed for my bedroom.
As a small child, I was good at getting into and atop things I shouldn’t. Risking the ire of my parents didn’t really bother me until corporal punishment was dealt. However, my parents were not at home. They left me in the charge of my great-grandmother whom I called Grandma L—–, for simplicity. She was a gentle but firm old Southern woman known for her stubborn will. And with umbrella in hand, I was about to test that strong will of hers.
Once in my bedroom, I opened the window of the Fisher Price house and hoisted myself from the ledge. The green plastic roof was slippery, but I balanced myself by squatting down. I opened the umbrella–and jumped. The umbrella acted as a parachute and caught the air underneath. It was like riding the winds! I was Mary Poppins!
I landed on the floor with absolutely no harm to myself and climbed the house for another try. I was having fun—until she came in.
“What are you doing!” she scolded. “Give me that! That is not a toy!”
We had an argument, as I explained my reasons for needing the umbrella and why she couldn’t take it away. In the end, she confiscated my umbrella. She went into the living room and delicately wrapped the umbrella with her knobby fingers. I walked up to her and insisted that I have the umbrella back. The discussion was brief. I returned to my room to play with my other toys. The Fisher Price house stood in the corner. Its appeal had diminished now it wasn’t a launching pad for aerial adventures.
Then, an idea sparked in my audacious mind—Peter Pan didn’t need an umbrella to fly.
Posted on March 10, 2014, in Children's Literature, Disney, Fairytales, Fantasy, Film, Humor, Monsters, Stephen Parish and tagged adventures in babysitting, childhood memory, fantasy writing, fiction writing, flying, imagination, j.m. barrie, Mary Poppins, monsters, North Carolina, P. L. Travers, peter pan. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.