by Mauranda Dolle
I’ve had an idea of what this is supposed to feel like since the day my father decided to build wings from bird feathers and escape this dreadful island. It’s supposed to feel completely freeing, like shackles broken and cell doors opening for the first time. It’s supposed to taste sweet, like honey. It’s supposed to be liberating, empowering.
But it doesn’t feel anything like this. The only thing I taste is disgust, a bitter remorse. All at once, I belong to something completely, and, then, I am only halfway free, flying alongside my father,
forever bound to him. I am trapped like an animal, imprisoned and lost, following my father to hisnext reckless adventure that will wind us up in unimaginable trouble.
I look down at him, struggling with his man-made wings, and, furthermore, struggling with the idea of his freedom. Below him, I can see the island I have spent all my life trapped upon, and I wonder if this is any better. Is this freedom? Or is this another prison that I am willingly flying towards?
I understand that it is not. There is no freedom when I am involved. My shackles will follow me
forever, even in my grave. So now, there is nothing else I can do but to fly faster, and up... up... up... I am flying towards the sun, flying towards the god Apollo, daring him to test me for my own freedom. The sun is blinding, and soon the closeness of the sun is beginning to feel like liberation, when I can no longer hear my father calling my name, and I can’t see him or the island. The sun moves farther away, Apollo daring me to follow him, daring me to get closer. He makes me fly faster, further, never able to catch up. He is testing me, questioning my want for freedom, and that is almost insufferable. I will prove to him that the sun, that freedom, is all I want.
I dreamt of a future that looks nothing like this, that was only peace and soft skies, not angry burns on my back and terrified eyes looking up at me. But now, I realize that this is my destiny, and that my own destruction can be my overwhelming freedom.
I have either caught up to the God or Apollo has given up. Either way, I’ve beaten a God. I’m far tooclose to the sun that is painting everything gold. My skin is beginning to burn painfully, but I don’t fly down to somewhere safe. I can’t let myself move. I am too intoxicated with independence.
The wax along my wings is melting, all the way down my back and legs to my ankles. The feathers are loosening and drifting down to the sea, and I watch as they float, reminding me that I will not. Reckless men don’t float.
Now, as if on cue, I fall, and I don’t fight it. Falling is part of freedom. I am not falling because of my father, not because of the king who imprisoned us, not because of anyone but myself. I am falling solely of my own accord, and the world is on fire around me. My father always told me that freedom has a price. This is mine.
I know that dying for freedom will be my destiny. If I don’t die from burnt wings and lungs filled
with water, then you will see me on the tip of the tallest tree in a forest fire, or in the middle of a
hurricane at sea. Destruction consuming me is the only way I can have freedom.
I look down at the water below me that is getting dangerously close, and I feel no real fear. The only remorse I have is the way they will tell my story. My father will fly to catch me and fail, and he will preach the story of his foolish son that he never let go until it was too late. The villagers of the island will tell their children horrifying bedtime stories of the man who touched the sun and was punished for it. They will teach their children to never take life so quickly and full of pride or you will end up like Icarus, dead at the bottom of the sea. They will teach about my ignorance, my foolishness; they will learn about my failures. They won’t learn of my imprisoned soul who got a taste of freedom and wanted to hold on to it forever, or remember my success and that I could, one day, be as smart as my father. I know they will only teach about the fall, but remember, I also flew.
I don’t want to be remembered as a foolish man who thought he was invincible. I am a man who
knew that I was everything but invincible, and I wanted to test it, wanted to take myself as far as I
would go, I've made it. I want this triumph to not be remembered as a punishment, but as a
deliverance. I believe Apollo heard my cries of misery; he saw that my future would be unsatisfying and miserable. The god of the sun heard my prayers and let me touch his creation, knowing what would happen, and now I am falling, soon to be drifting down... down... down.
As my body hits the water and my lungs helplessly gasp for air, I ask for one thing and one thing
Remember that I flew.
Remember that I touched the sun, something that no mortal has done before, and I flew.
Remember that Icarus flew.