I know my mother did not like me from the day I was born, although this all came to light many years later. Returning to my birth, I entered the world on a Friday afternoon, full of hope for the life before me. My mum was just glad that I had eventually arrived. She was not happy about me actually being born, especially as a father was not present. He never really knew that I was on the way. I was the result of a quick ten minutes in the boiler room of the chemical company where my mother was employed as a packer. Unfortunately on this day there was an accident in the company. It seemed that two containers containing two different gas mixtures got mixed together through a mistake made by an apprentice laboratory worker and the gas mixture expanded to such an extent that it caused a leak somewhere in the pipeline. My mother was so occupied with the boiler master that she did not notice that all employees were being told to leave the plant, so she remained.
That was my past history in a nut shell, so on the day of my arrival this little incident was more or less forgotten. I was sleeping my baby sleep in a small bed next to my mothers in the hospital and she decided to take me in her arms, probably with the intent of seeing what it was like to have a son. That was when I made my first mistake. I just could not wait, and sort of floated into my mother’s arms on my own. Mum put me down like a piece of hot coal, and decided that having an illegitimate son was one problem, but a freak that could fly was an even bigger problem. That night she packed her bags and left the hospital through a back door. To this day she has never been seen since.
Luckily my mother had an older sister Marge. Now Marge was one of those women that was convinced her purpose in life was to have a happy family which was my luck as she adopted me. Marge already had five children and was expecting number six so I suppose she thought that one more was no problem. Marge was married to Jim, a quiet man, never said very much and was just happy to have a regular factory job, read his newspaper quietly in the evening and be looked after by Marge and the children. As the children got older, they were given various chores to do in the family. Growing up in a large family had the advantage for me that my flying facilities were somewhat hidden. I had been given the name of Joe and so as I grew older my chores were established. I seemed to be the one with most speed so I soon had my work to do.
“Joe, can you go quickly to the shops and bring some milk” or “Joe we need potatoes, but quickly” and Joe did his job perfectly. Of course I was quick. I would walk to the corner of the road and then it was up in the air and a quick flight to the shops when I was sure that no-one was watching. One day I was flying to the shops and was seen by one of my half sisters, I think it was Maureen. When I got home in the evening Marge was waiting for me. Jim was also there, although said nothing as usual.
“Joe, I heard something from Maureen today that I can hardly believe. Now don’t lie to me, tell the truth. Can you fly?”
“Yes Aunt Marge, no problem.”
“I told you not to lie, people cannot fly.”
“But he was flying along the road” said Maureen “I saw him, and he was quick.”
“Marge don’t you start telling lies as well, Joe cannot fly. It is not possible.”
So what did I do? To avoid getting Marge and I branded as a liar I took a flight around the living room.
“Well, just look at that” said Jim. I think that was the first sentence I had heard from him since I had been with Aunt Marge. Aunt Marge was just looking at me with her mouth wide open. After she recovered she made her decision and the next morning I was taken to Doctor Smith.
“How can I help you” he said to Aunt Marge.
“It’s my nephew Joe, he can fly.”
“People cannot fly” was the answer, so I did another round trip in the surgery to prove Aunt Marge’s point.
Doctor Smith called the hospital and made an appointment for an examination. To cut a long story short, nothing really resulted in the examinations. They did find out that my bones were somehow composed differently to the normal human bone. There was talk of further examinations, but Aunt Marge decided it was all costing too much money and to leave things as they were. I must say Aunt Marge was a very logical person.
Time went past, and my flying talents were never again spoken about. I decided to keep it to myself; then came the day that the circus was in town. Aunt Marge was still producing children but the older children were already working and bringing money home. The oldest daughter had already got married and was expecting Aunt Marge’s first grandchild. I was also now leaving school and looking for work. I thought postman would be a good choice. I was sure I could complete my rounds at the post quickly. Anyhow, a family excursion was planned and we all went to the circus. It was fascinating to see the clowns, although it seemed to me that many circus artists were not as normal as others; fire eaters and dwarfs, as well as acrobats that could twist and turn their bodies in all various shapes. Then there were the trapeze artists. I was fascinated and my brain started ticking.
The next day I took a walk to the circus and asked to see the manager.
“What can I do for you boy” he asked
“I want to be a trapeze artist.” Was my answer
“Do you have any experience.”
“Sort of, I am used to working in heights and have no fear of falling. I am sure I would be perfect for the job.”
I think I saw a sort of smile on the manager’s face, but my luck was in. One of the trapeze artists had twisted his ankle on a landing manoeuvre and they needed a substitute quickly. The manager decided it was worth a trial and took me into the tent and told me to climb up to the trapeze. I decided not to fly up as it could be that the manager might have some doubts. However, I reached the trapeze and then started swinging to and fro. The manager called “somersault” so I did one. He then called “double somersault” so I obliged and so on. After an afternoon’s trials I got the job. I even managed a triple somersault, which seemed to seal the deal. When I arrived home Aunt Marge was so pleased that I had found a job, although she was sorry that I would be leaving and travelling with a circus.
What more shall I say. The circus job was a success. The manager was particularly pleased as people came from near and far to see me: I was soon the circus star. It was at this time that I met Marilyn. She worked with me as a trapeze artist. It was my job to catch her when she did her tricks and she told me she had never felt so safe before working on the trapeze. We were a pair until one fateful day. Marilyn came to my dressing room and I flew over to meet her at the door.
“Joe did I see you flying just now.”
“I thought you might have guessed Marilyn, yes I was flying. It’s just something I can do.”
“You mean that all the time we have been working together, you could fly and never told me.”
“Marilyn does it really matter. We love each other and that is the main thing.”
“No, Joe, no way.”
“But Marilyn, I thought we were going to marry this year and start our own circus.”
“No, sorry Joe. I do love you, but please understand I just cannot marry someone that can fly, it’s just not normal. Think of what people would say if they found out.”
“Marilyn, it would just be something between us.”
“No, Joe, I just couldn’t.”
So my wonderful romance with Marilyn was at an end. She decided to leave the circus and shortly afterwards I head she had married one of the acrobats. It was then that a new chance in my life arrived. I was thinking about leaving the circus when after a performance a knock came on my dressing room door. I opened the door and it was the first time I met Charles. Charles worked for the country’s government and they had problems. One of their top spies had been caught by an enemy nation and it was a matter of importance that he was rescued, especially as he knew many secrets of our country.
Charles was one of the heads of the espionage department of the government and I had been watched secretly by his personnel for some time. They had taken photos of me and made films showing my flying talents. Indeed the material had been examined by various experts at the ministry and they were completely convinced that I could fly. Confronted with such evidence I could not refuse. My next job was organised. I became an agent for the secret service. I was issued with a new identity and sent to the country where the agent had been imprisoned. During the day the prisoners were escorted to an area outside the prison for their daily exercise. I had been trained and it was my job to fly into this area, pick up my country’s agent and fly away with him. Of course I had been supplied with material to make the pick-up job easier. A special apparatus for carrying the prisoner, but everything went well and I just flew away with the agent. An aircraft was waiting for us on a small field near bye and we escaped. It was a full success.
Over the years I accomplished many missions for my country. My work was kept completely secret and in the countries where I did my work nothing was said. After all, who would believe that there were people who could fly?
Today I am retired. Looking back on my life, I have no regrets. Financially I am doing well. My wages from my trapeze days and my civil servant work have enabled me to live a comfortable life. I would have like to have shared my life with a wife and children, but that is one of the disadvantages of flying. As soon as a woman entered my life and realised my gift, she decided to find somebody that was normal,
Writing Prompt #5: Fly Away