Charlie’s Room: The Kite

The wind was rushing through the trees in the neighborhood. It had been blowing all week, scattering the last tattered brown leaves from fall, so many months ago. It sounded like the ocean.

Marianne, Isaac, and Charlie spent Saturday morning gathering branches and leaves and papers that had blown against the back fence.   “Isn’t this good weather for flying a kite?” Charlie asked.

“I think so,” Marianne said. “But we don’t have a kite.”

“I could make one,” Charlie said. “I’m sure it’s not that hard.”

“I made a kite once when I was younger,” Isaac said.

Charlie grinned. “What happened? Did it fly?”

Isaac threw a plastic straw and a candy wrapper into the trash bag and frowned. “A tree ate it,” he said.

“I thought trees ate water and sunlight and stuff like that.” Charlie frowned.

Marianne laughed. “Trees don’t really eat kites. That’s just a joke. If you fly your kite too close to trees, the string will get tangled in the branches, that’s all.”

“Oh, okay.” Charlie raked up some more leaves. A gust of wind blew his pile apart. He sighed. “This isn’t working.”

“Don’t worry about the leaves,” Marianne said.   “Put the rake away and you can help me gather branches.”

They finished just in time for lunch. After lunch Marianne left to go to a baby shower.   “I think this would be a great time to make a kite,” she said before she left. “Just watch out for the trees.”

Charlie laughed. “I’ll go get some string. What else will we need?”

“I’ll go get the rest. Meet me at the kitchen table,” Isaac said.

They tied the sticks in a cross shape, then strung string between the ends of the sticks. They placed the framework on some newspaper, folded the edges over the string, and glued it in place. Finally, they tied the end of the ball of string to the spot where the sticks crossed.

Charlie held it up and squinted at it. “Well, it looks like a kite.”

“That’s because it is a kite,” Isaac said.   “Shall we test it out?”

“As long as we stay away from the trees.” Charlie grinned.

Isaac took the kite and stood in the middle of the yard.   He let out a little bit of string and tossed the kite in the air. It flew.   Charlie cheered. Isaac held out the string. “Do you want to try?”

“Of course!” Charlie took the string. “Wow.   The wind is pulling on it pretty hard, isn’t it? The wind must be stronger higher up.” The wind gusted through and Charlie stumbled back a few steps. “Ouch. The string is hurting my hands. You take it again, Dad.”

Isaac took the string. The wind really was blowing hard. He tugged on the string and made the kite dip and turn.

“Do that again,” Charlie said.

Isaac managed to make the kite turn again, but the wind was blowing even harder. “Maybe we should go inside,” he said.

“I want to try to make the kite jump like you did,” Charlie said. “Then we can go in.”

Isaac held out the string, and Charlie reached for it. Just then, the wind tugged harder on the kite, and the string broke. The kite blew free, crossed the yard, and flew straight into the neighbor’s tree.

There was a loud crunch and the sound of paper tearing as the kite disappeared into the branches of the tree. The kite was gone. “Miss Marta’s tree ate our kite,” Charlie said. “Kite-eating trees are real! I can’t wait to tell Mom.”

“I’m sorry about your kite,” Isaac said.

“It’s all right,” Charlie said. “We can make another one later. Next time, I’m going to draw a dinosaur on it. That will scare the tree. It won’t eat a dinosaur kite.”

“Maybe you’re right,” Isaac said. “We’ll have to try it and see.”

He rolled up the end of the string, and they went inside to make a new kite.