There Would Always Be a Becky and Some Damned Kite

I had a kite I'd won in the city newspaper's colouring contest. I was 13 years old, standing in a field still dusted with dry snow that blew in late during that early spring, and I was a little embarrassed by the win. It felt terrible to stand there with that kite.

sky

I never won in contests. I had only wanted to win something, anything, once, and so I had entered a contest for which I felt I was a shoe-in. When I dropped off my entry, I was two weeks away from aging out of the running, and, at 12 years old, colouring was easy. I coloured in the requisite drawing of a hot air balloon with markers and mailed it in to the newspaper.

When I got the phone call telling me I was the winner, it was anticlimactic. I expected to feel whatever emotion it was that people looked like they were feeling when they won something, but I didn't feel the urge to beam or gush about my news. I just felt kind of bored. The prize of a kite emblazoned with a giant Canadian maple leaf barely interested me, and I wished it were as easy to win other things that interested me more. I knew that I was a complete asshole for feeling this way, because I had won a kite, goddammit! But I didn't really care.

A couple of weeks later, I went to pick up my prize, and the lady at the desk told me about how the the second prize winner, Becky, had nearly won, but I had just squeaked by. I couldn't stop thinking about Becky after that, and when the first, second, and third place winners were announced in the paper the following weekend, I looked at Becky's second-place picture and bio and felt sick. She was two years younger than me, and I was now technically aged out of the contest, having had my 13th birthday two weeks after the contest closed. I was a fraud. I imagined that Becky really wanted the ugly kite that I now held, and I was a thief.

I needed to pay some kind of penance for being such a jerk, so I regularly took the kite I didn't want out to a field near my house. I told myself that I would treat it like prayer, that I would let my kite fly up there into the sky, and I would think about Becky. I would hope good things for her. I would hope that she would win something and feel the feelings you are supposed to feel when you really want something and get it. I would hope that I would only take what I wanted in the future, that I wouldn't try to artificially create what was better to come by honestly.

I spent hours in that field during my 13th spring reeling out string and squinting against the sun, waiting to appreciate what I had taken and worrying that this was how things would be, that I would always want and then regret wanting. The field only punctuated my thoughts, stretching out flat and dusty and unforgiving until it abutted the peeling fences of suburban yards.

I finally found some relief one afternoon when the wind twisted the kite into a nosedive. It pulled and jerked in powerful loops that yanked my arms hard enough to drag my feet until it pounded into a dirt clod and collapsed under its own force, its spine busted in two. I was calmed as I wound up the string for the last time, watching it snap out little dust clouds, and folded the broken toy under my arm. I was so tired of thinking about Becky and wanting and not wanting.

I couldn't just win and be happy winning, because this was how things really were. I knew that now. My hairshirt was done, but the fact remained: there would always a Becky and some damned kite, and I would always be a thief with broken spoils.
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Elan Morgan

Elan Morgan is a blogger, designer and consultant, and speaker who blogs and works from schmutzie.com, spreads gratitude through the graceinsmallthings.com social network, celebrates quality blogging with the canblogawards.com, and speaks all over. She has been seen in the Globe & Mail, Best Health and Woman's Day magazines, TEDxRegina, and on CBC News and Radio. She believes in and works to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.