The Dragon Kite

While passing the Kamo River today, I saw school children running along the dirt path, tugging cotton strings and bright, colorful kites behind them. There were turtles and stingrays, an octopus, and jets, their bright ribbons flashing like neon rainbows under the cobalt sky.

It brought me back. Back to memories I rarely remember; memories so disjointed I recall them in third person. Do you have any memories like that? Memories where you see yourself as if you aren’t really connected to the event itself? Maybe it has something to do with the corrosive quality of recalling long forgotten truths; renovating them, and fixing all the little holes that the story needs to have filled. I’m not sure, and I digress.

My father always loved kites. Still does. In the old days, he had a collection of kites that he’d fly during the windy seasons in the south. There’s only one I can recall with any real clarity. The others remain puffs of smoke in my memory.

The Dragon Kite.

It was a monster of a kite. Three times longer than my dad (and my dad is a tall guy), this kite required at least two people to get it airborne. The ferociousness of its face begged for freedom, always, gasping and gnawing at the trunk of the car until at last the gulf winds fluttered through its paper scales.

Once in the air, it was like a puppy off the leash: diving, dancing, challenging the wind in games of agility and elegance. It sneered at the tether on its nose, jaws always seeming to try and snap at it, before its coils rolled into the next dive, a feng shui rainbow of ambition.

I loved that kite.

Chinese Dragon Kite

One morning, while my dad was at work, my older brother loaded the car with The Dragon Kite and my siblings, and we all went to the beach. It was a cloudy day; nothing spectacular, except for the wind. It bellowed and brushed the sea in great strokes of might. The heavens clamored; the Dragon answered.

It took me, my brother, and my younger sister forty minutes to get the dragon airborne. The gusts greeted him with gailful kisses; his tail snapped. The tether became a hook in his snout–it was a fight for freedom. The Dragon Kite roared soundlessly above us, swirling violently in infinity knots.

…and like that, the rope slipped out of my brother’s hands.

We, all three of us, ran desperately after the spool, which bounced and tumbled across the beach almost in tease, before it was thrown into the sky.

Shaking, fearing what had just happened to my father’s prized kite, my older brother whispered, “It’s alright. It’ll come down again.”

Cumbersome as the monster was, The Dragon Kite showed no inclination towards Earth. It laughed, kicking its skull back to flaunt the slack noose about its nose. The winds pulled it higher and higher, up into the embrace of the clouds, and we watched, stupefied, as The Dragon Kite flew out across the water and into the horizon, until with a blink, the only speck that remained disappeared as well.

Chinese dragon kiteChinese dragons are considered celestial beings. I like to pretend that on that day, our Dragon, its spirit unable to be contained any longer by paper and twine, broke free, and returned to its proper place–in the sky, tumbling free through the clouds, laughing with the great mirth of its expression. I’m almost positive that it did.

My brother, unfortunately, got grounded.

10 thoughts on “The Dragon Kite

  1. I love the way you’ve recalled this childhood memory, Alex, but I sure did cringe when I read that your brother accidentally let go of that kite! I’m choosing to believe, however, that ultimately the dragon’s fate was as you’ve described it here.

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    1. Yeah, I think the shade of my brother’s skin paled about four levels when it happened, haha! It was a terribly expensive kite, so my father was understandably upset (he has since replaced it with an antique Thai dragon kite, that gets no fly time at all, but hangs from the ceiling year round!)

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  2. I have one of those 3rd person memories. I think the 3rd person-ness of it is because of a picture my mom took of it, so when I think about it, it’s from that perspective. I have another memory that teeters on 3rd person.

    And I do have one kite story that got me in trouble, but I kept the kite.

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    1. 3rd person memories are quite strange, aren’t they? I recall the couple of times that I was bullied at school in 3rd person, as well. I think it has something to do with other kids describing what happened to me later, and that sticking with me more, because at the moment it actually happened, I was all adrenaline-hopped.

      I’d love to hear the story of your kite one day. 🙂

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      1. It’s not a very exciting kite story. I had attached several rolls of string together into one giant roll and gotten the kite all the way up. I was called home shortly after that, but it took me hours (until after dark) to get the kite back down. My arms were tired (and very sore afterward), I missed dinner, and I got yelled at. At one point my mom even came out to where I was and told me to just let it go (and my arms hurt so bad that I considered it), but it became a pride thing, and I was determined to bring the kite down.
        Now that I’m saying this, I think I need to go read Old Man and the Sea.
        Hmm…

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    1. Thanks so much Marilyn! I enjoy sharing my old memories from time to time. I’m glad you enjoyed the tale. 🙂

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