That’s odd, I said to myself, wondering if I was still dreaming.
I rubbed my eyes and got up from bed, hoping to shake off any remnants of my sleepiness which should have been fully extinguished by my satisfying afternoon nap. Curious still, I lumbered towards the open window to take a closer look at what I think I saw just now.
And there it was, in front of my now very alert eyes, as clear as the cloudless November afternoon sky:
A flying skull.
Attached to it is a tail-like appendage, slithering in a graceful wave-like motion, like a snake chasing after a moving prey, maneuvering deftly through the gust of strong wind that came and went very quickly. It took me quite a while to realize it was a human spine.
The skull kite is tugged every now and then by a string still discernible to the naked eye, glinting from sunlight. It means the kite master is near.
A perfect afternoon for flying kites, I thought to myself, and yet there’s only the skull kite in sight. This is indeed odd.
The skull kite flying all alone reminds me of a child in a playground no one wants to play with. That is just sad.
I used to look forward to the rainy months of the year, because this is the windy season too, and windy season is kite season. Every kid knows that. Every kid should know that.
So why is no one flying kites?
When I was a young boy, I often join other kids in spending whatever little money we have and whatever free time is given to us to build kites, to make sturdy strings to use for kite fighting, and to watch the dancing kites decorate the sky. Before the day ends, there will always be a chase after a fallen kite pursued relentlessly by kids without caution, even if it means climbing trees, electric posts, and roofs. Kids have no concept of mortal danger except angry parents and their pamalo of choice.
Now, it is a rarity to find a kid interested in building and flying kites. They are busy with their cellphones and mobile games and social media and memes.
No one looks up at the sky anymore. They get their high hunched over their electronic gadgets. Here inside the new digital world, they can fly. So who needs a kite?
I left the house and rode my bike, hoping to find the person flying the skull kite. I found him eight blocks away from where I live – a short, old man with balding head propped on a wheelchair.
“Is that yours?” I approached him, gesturing to the skull kite hovering up above.
We both stared at the skull kite in silence, amazed at how it soars and glides with ease and agility.
“Is it a real human skull?” I asked.
“Yes. That’s my skull,” he answered.
Oh. I see.
He saw the curiosity in my eyes and sensed that I was ashamed to ask, so he obliged.
“I have a zipper here,” pointing at his nape. I moved closer to take a look, and he wasn’t lying: there was a zipper that opens and closes the flesh in that area of his head and neck.
“I take out my skull and fly it like a kite when I need to look for inspiration and new ideas. It is like a magnet, if you will,” he chuckled.
“What do you need new ideas for?” I asked.
“For writing, most of the time. For everyday use, generally. Life is boring and useless if you don’t have new ideas to get you excited every day, don’t you think?”
I nodded in agreement.
“Why the spine though?” I asked.
“I can’t disconnect it from the skull, so it goes with it.” He tapped the wheelchair lightly. “But I can’t stand without my spine, so I sit down when I fly my kite.”
“So you are skull-less right now?” I fought the urge to touch his head, but decided against it, knowing it is rude to violate personal space that way.
“But how are you able to keep the shape of your head?” I asked, curious.
“I just inhale enough air to keep the form of my head. When I feel it deflating, I inhale again.”
Hoooooooooooop. He made a demonstration of sucking air as best he could. Not that he needed it at the time, since no part of his head looks deformed.
We continued to watch the skull kite fly above us. After a few minutes, he started winding the reel, pulling the skull kite back to the ground.
“Is there enough new ideas in there now?” I asked, pointing at the skull kite as it slowly descends.
“We’ll see,” he answered without breaking pace. The smile on his face revealed his optimism.
“Well, good luck!” I gently patted him on the shoulder before I started to pedal away, wondering if I have time over the weekend to build a kite.
Maybe. After my afternoon nap. That’ll do.
July 25, 2019
PS: I’ve had this idea of the skull kite for quite some time now, maybe for years, I’m not sure. But I haven’t found a way to build on it.
I was drinking until the wee hours of July 20, 2019. I took a bath and then went to sleep, probably around 2AM. At around 3AM, I found myself wide awake, sans any ill-effect of recent inebriation. Out of nowhere, this story came to me, and the skull kite story is complete all of a sudden.
I spent the next few days polishing and finalizing the story.