Freshford, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
At the seaside beach balls, shovels and buckets were stacked in colourful bundles under a flapping canvas; wind whipped windmill toys into a frenzy of spinning brilliance. Then I saw the kite, straining and tugging in the breeze.
My brother and sisters had buckets and spades; they wanted to dig to Australia. I didn’t want to see any more dark holes in the ground.
Ted, my brother, was born a week after my father was buried. Aunt May said he arrived early because of the shock and that’s why he hadn’t walked yet.
The last time we saw the sea my father was with us and he taught me how to fly a kite.
“Hold on tight now,” he said “or it will fly out to sea.”
“Where does the sea end Da?”
“I think that’s where heaven might be.” he said.
I released the kite like my father had shown me. It arched up overhead, graceful and calm, its long tail swirling and sweeping the wide blue sky. For a long time I watched it play, I watched it buck and dip and all the time I held on until I was tired holding on and my arms ached. Then slowly I opened my fist and felt the string slip through my fingers, the kite soared wide and high, out towards that blue line where the sea ends.
Turning back I saw Ted in the distance; he stood up slowly, balanced himself, and took his first step.