First Flight

By Sarah Curtis

November 19, 2018

First Flight

My first memory is a lie: I am a baby, flying around the living room. Gliding toward a window, I see the retriever lolling outside, earthbound on the gravel driveway. I reach out to grasp a handful of his fur but cannot close the gap. Then I pivot left and sail over the couch.

It’s not exactly the kind of memory you share with rational adults. But one night I did tell it to my seven-year-old daughter as I tucked her into bed. She scooted up against her headboard, alert. I know, it’s so silly. I laughed. But I swear I remember.

“It’s not silly,” she insisted. “I used to fly down the stairs.”

The stairs? Frames of memory flickered before me. Fresh from a nap, her red curls plastered to her cheeks, her pudgy limbs sprawled like a flying squirrel, the blue pacifier slipping from her mouth and bouncing over the banister—bop, bop, bop—as she uttered a throaty laugh, the last notes I’d choose to hear on earth. Below her, my husband’s freckled biceps, his broad hands circling her rib cage, just as my own father’s hands must have circled mine. “Flying baby coming through!” he’d shout.

We sat silent for a moment, two generations fused by DNA and delusion. My daughter, dreamy with flight. And I, my lifelong mystery replaced by another: whether it is better to see the hands or not. To trust in magic or in the buoyancy of kin.

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