Paper Aeroplanes

The seagulls swooped and fell while others drifted on the updraft, hanging in the air like a child’s mobile suspended above their cot. The waves pounding the cliff face below provided the music, a lullaby of breathing in and breathing out.

I caught a glimpse of a Wandering Albatross whose wingspan is longer than I am tall. They say the albatross never touches land, except to feed and to mate, drifting from current to current. Is the albatross I see on the edge of the horizon a lost soul searching for home?

The ruckus of congregating seagulls at my feet was angling for the scraps from my lunch of fish and chips. Cheeky buggers; they have no manners. But I envy the birds and their power of flight.

When we were kids, my older brother and I pored over books we borrowed from the Library on paper aeroplanes. We manufactured every design and plan, testing our creations from the back deck of the house. Some we built for tricks, others for distance. My brother was fascinated with the physics of flight while I found the artistry in the folding. I branched out to origami, creating flocks of flightless birds I hung from the ceiling in my bedroom.

The need to fly never left me and I found the power to fly through words. Pen and paper, ink and ideas.

At my hand lies an old journal of mine I found when cleaning out boxes from the garage. My fifteen year old self was such an idiot. But there were words and sentences; flights of fancy in ribbons of black ink. I would slipstream over and under the words as they flowed.

Simply on a whim I tore a page from the journal and fashioned a crude paper aeroplane. Standing up from the picnic table I moved towards the edge of the cliff, parting the seagulls as an avian John the Baptist. As a prayer I launched the paper aeroplane, throwing my words into the world.

My word shall not return to me void, says the Lord God Almighty. I so hope the words coming back to me aren’t swear words.

The paper aeroplane took flight, bobbing in the eddies and draughts, flying down towards the maelstrom of waves. It dipped and spun, ducked and weaved to be consumed by the waters below.

Pages flew from the hanger of my journal, transformed into shapes born for flight. Some plummeted to the ground, felled by the weight of the words. Others returned to me from the void, swept upwards by thrusts of air. They flew over my head and were lost in the scrubland behind the car park. The temptation to search for my words was strong, to see what was so important that it should return, but I let them be.

With my journal now a spine without a body to support, I headed back to the car. I paused from turning the ignition, caught by one more vision of the albatross. Childhood has aged into adolescence, matured into adulthood, yet I am still learning how to fly.

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19 responses to “Paper Aeroplanes

  1. As I was writing this, it became part story, part manifesto. It is still fiction, a slice of life, yet somehow a reflection of me as a writer. Some of this is autobiographical, but mostly a work of fiction.
    It would also help if you listened to Pink Floyd’s “Learning to Fly” while you read it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlcTDNaerQU

  2. There is some wonderful beauty in this: “a spine without a body to support” says so much, and the idea that an albatross never lands except for those few things. Is that true? It’s an incredible thought.

    • I did some research on this and what I found suggests the albatross rarely spends time on land. But it depends on the type of albatross. Quick, to Discovery Channel!

  3. Quite the poetic little slice here. Nice.

  4. Damn Adam, that was beautiful.

  5. Excellent! There was true beauty in those words. It read like poetry.

  6. I agree with Tim about the poetic quality. It certain has a nice feel to it as I read it. Based on the title I expected a story about adolescence, instead I got a story about maturity. Nice work, Adam!

  7. You seem to have a wealth of these poignant vignettes. I try to keep writing of this depth away from my work less it reveal the shallowness inherent to myself. The image of throwing paper aeroplane off the cliff top would make an excellent book cover illustration.

  8. This is a beautiful piece of writing, capturing the adventure of discovery. Small steps that lead to bigger ones, and yet the realisation that the journey will probably never be over while one still lives and breathes. I loved the descriptive element of this and could not only visualise those birds, but hear their call. Not only see the boy/man launch his words into the air, but fly with them to those waves.

    Very nice!

  9. Flying and letting go–such powerful themes for writers. Amazing, to just let your words go and land where they may–such a metaphor.

    This held magic.

  10. Lovely language as ever and very evocative. I love the idea of those lost words from the journal perhaps being read by someone else and that catching a spark for them and continuing to inspire and ‘fly’. A lovely theme.

  11. I love albatrosses – another interesting point is that they mate for life, always rearing a single chick every year. That’s why I donate to the RSPB to help conserve them because they often get killed by fishermen or their nets.

    Lovely piece of flash though. Great metaphor for writing in the power of flight.

  12. Deanna Schrayer

    Adam, this is absolutely gorgeous! I agree with others that it has a poetic, lyrical quality to it, but what strikes me most is the juxtaposition of the birds and the words. Just lovely!

  13. antisocialbutterflie

    I have to agree with everyone that there is a lyrical quality to this piece. The line about the swear words broke that up a bit, but in my mind it made the writing all the more accessible. Great job.

  14. 🙂 I thought of Floyd’s “Learning To Fly” immediately. Very evocative piece – and I wish that I had kept more of my juvenile writing.
    Looking forward to exploring more of your writing!

  15. This is a beautiful piece of writing, a graceful and gentle read with so much heart in it.

  16. At least he’s learning! There’s so much pregnant reflection and so little raw plot or action than I’m not surprised it’s at least partially autobiographical. It feels earnest in a refreshing way.

  17. This is lovely, Adam. Plus all that Chuck said. ;P

  18. Pingback: The #FridayFlash Report – Vol 3 Numbers 12 & 13 | Friday Flash » Friday Flash

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