Story Time: “Bound to Freedom (2014)”

“Sit here.” Hayden, at 29, did as he was told. His mentor, Noden, looked to the horizon, waiting patiently. Hayden waited, watching. His mentor never misses a sunrise. Noden wore middle-age as if it were youth, somehow hitting the senses as both old and young. He’s exactly as his brother, Ayir, described over twenty years ago before the earth took him. Hayden met Noden’s gaze as he joined him on the warming grass, the dew having departed as the sun ascended. The mentee wondered if his mentor was intentionally teaching him patience, or if he was just that fascinated with the sunrise. 

“Look around, Hayden. What do you see?” asked Noden, his voice resembling his appearance—ambiguously adultlike and childlike, at the same time. 

Again, Hayden followed instructions. He and Noden were on a small hill in a land man forgot, but woman remembered fondly. The gentle rumblings of the ocean, somewhere in the distance, causing a steady pulse in the air. The sky was the blue of clean unpolluted skies, inviting envy in robins’ eggs. Clouds stretched, like visible whispers, across the expanse. Hayden saw beauty. He felt nature; it’s resilience, it’s strength, and it’s fragility. He mentioned this to his mentor.

“Very good. Now…what do you feel?”

Hayden hated questions like that. They always seemed like a trick of some sort to him. He closed his eyes so he could actually feel instead of see. First he felt himself, his presence. An insect buzzed past him and he felt the disturbance of air. Hayden felt his mentor watching him intently and expectantly. The warmth of the sun beamed on his bare back. It was comforting. It’s the comfort the sun offers in the height of the Spring, before it becomes a violent ball of heat exhaustion. 

“I feel..I feel…small.” Hayden opened his eyes to see Noden’s nod of approval.

“Very good.” Said Noden as he reclined on his back which was also bare. The muscles in his stomach stretching as well. It was evident that Noden stayed in shape. He wasn’t what one would call ripped but he was toned, lean. Hayden was as well. It was a requirement for those who received training such as this. 

“Hayden, do you know why the angels can fly?” Again, Hayden thought this was another trick question but he answered anyway. “Ummm…because they have wings?” He tried to harness the sarcasm in his voice, but doubted that he succeeded. Noden could sense a flea a mile away if he desired to do so.

“Hmm. That’s the obvious answer. But it’s the false one as well. Angels can fly because they are free of earth. They are not bound to the laws that bind humanity.”

“What laws, sir?” Hayden was intrigued.

“Laws such as gravity, for one. But there are other laws; theories and revelations treated as truth by those in power and accepted by those without. Mythologies, religions, scientific studies, and philosophies perpetuate these laws, these ordinances, these pseudo-truths. Parents plant them in their offspring, encouraging their seed to avoid opening Pandora’s Box. All with good reason, mind you.” Noden turned toward Hayden, the sun seemed to reflect in his eyes. “But to simplify it for you, humans are bound to each other. Incarcerated by principals, expectations, doubts, worries, fears, thoughts, needs…and other countless burdens. But angels, angels are free from such concerns.”

Noden was sitting back down by the time he finished his little dissertation. Noden’s grey-green eyes blazing in the sunlight in his brown face; his peppered hair trimmed neatly by the barbers in the court. His legs were arranged in a manner many refer to as “Indian” style, though monks sit in the same manner, as well as other nations and cultures.  

              Hayden noted a ladybug on the sole of his mentor’s barefoot. He was barefoot as well. The only thing that covered them both was the ceremonial garb of those who sought to escape. The garb was merely a pair of pants the same color as the sky when it’s at it’s purest. They were sewn from a silken material yet they never stained or tore, though they were loose-fitting. Hayden mused they were inspired by angel wings. 

“So, their wings have nothing to do with it?” Hayden inquired, doubtfully.

“Well, who said that angels truly have wings?” Noden’s tone was teasing. “But, I wouldn’t say that the wings have nothing to do with it. I’m sure they assist in the aerodynamics. But, Hayden, what I want you to understand is their freedom. They are truly free. Angels are bound to freedom. And in order to master angelflight you must be as well.”

“But how? How do I become bound to freedom? I’m no angel. And I do have human concerns. Gravity has dominion over my feet.” Hayden sounded a bit panicked but it’s only because flight was his only desire. 

“Angels aren’t held down by human concerns, but they do feel.” There was a pause and Hayden knew Noden was waiting on him, so he took his cue.

“What do they feel?”

“Joy. Immeasurable joy! They were gifted with the innate ability to swim in the sky. To see more of God’s creation than the greatest fowl. Humans can tap into this joy as well, but it’s not not organic. It’s not of our own natural volition. Like laughing. My, when you laugh in love it’s…soaring through the free sky on your own wings. 

“But gravity affects every bird, insect, or flying fish.  What makes angels truly free?” The urgency in Hayden’s voice caused Noden to smile in remembrance. He was just as earnest when he came into the knowledge owed to every seed of God, no matter the fruit. 

 “Yes, yes it does. Birds, insects, flying fish, they are all of this earth, this realm that is ours. But angels were not a part of human creation. Not according to the creation stories of major religions. Angels were the seeds of another creation. A genesis before, or existing along with, that of the inhabitants of earth.” Noden closed his eyes, his words spoken in the key of butterfly wings. Hayden was quiet enough in his spirit to hear the sound. It was a meditation practice unique to their village. They’d become masters in their pursuit of angelflight. Noden defied gravity long enough to discover, what he christened, Third Twilight. He was among the elite wingless flyers celebrated in all the nations. And he was humble enough to train others, so that we might fly even higher together. As was his Calling, his students were not only taught how to fly, but also how to teach others. Bound to his thoughts, Hayden hadn’t realized that Noden paused, aware of his student’s inclination to wonder. 

“That’s due to gravity. And in addition to scientific proclamations, gravity is the tendency to give more weight to struggles than personal triumphs. Gravity is holding on when it’d be less taxing to release.” Noden stood, though float might be more appropriate, facing away from his student. “Gravity, dear Hayden, is a soul’s distraction. All this to say, to defy gravity we have to master the art of letting go so that we can hold on to joy, to freedom. And it’s that joy that gives you the peace that enables you to partake in the ultimate freedom, which manifests as flight.” With this said, Noden stood. He stood and there was an invisible force that surrounded him. Hayden couldn’t see it but he could sense it with that part of the human brain that is more than physical. In a breath, Noden was no longer standing atop the hill with Hayden. He was in the sky.

#faith, #fathers, #flight, #flying, #hope, #love, #prose, #short-story, #stories, #storytime

TO MR. DUNBAR

The mask I wear envies
the dark side of the moon
and eclipses the sun

So I leave it in a box
beneath some ill-fitting clothes
I’ve been meaning to throw out

-Rahk.

#black-lives-matter, #fathers, #gender-norms, #history, #paul-laurence-dunbar, #sons

Pop’s Fables

Son regret just like a dog with two tails–
he can’t move his ass without waggin’.

So, tell that woman you wanna hold her in a dark room and witness the stars in her eyes.

Love that woman, boy. Love her man-like. Then love her like you a woman too. Tell her

“I’m not as strong as I wanna be and I’m weaker than I think. But I can keep a volcano calm when I choose to hold you tighter than my ego.” Tell her

A bejeweled crown adorns her trust and you have become her tallest throne. Show her. Show her.

Son, a dog with two tails is a sad sight to behold. And son… if you’ve never seen one, keep living ’til you get old.


-Rahk.

#fathers, #poetry, #relationships, #sons, #storytime