Captains of the Sky
Back then, we created an airway in the house. Ever since I was a kid, I had developed a fondness of the things that lurk in the sky. I used to run outside the house with my hands stretched to my side. I’d close my eyes and imagine I was up above, soaring with the clouds. We lived in a little house on top a hill, where the wind helped much in my airborne daydreams and the stars were the clearest when the sun hid behind the mounds of earth that lay beyond the vast sea. Not a lot of people lived on the area where our house stood. On our town, most people preferred to stay downhill, where the roads were paved. Only few, like our family, chose to remain in the highlands. I didn’t question my parents why because I liked it just as it is.
I’ve been making paper planes ever since I’ve learned how to do basic math. Despite being the only child in the house, my sister would lie down with me with the bits of paper scattered on the floor. I used all kinds of paper, even those which had the messiest writings in them. Sometimes, my sister would let me use the letters given by her lover. She seemed okay with it, and I was careful not to tear or damage any of it. When I’d walk into her room, I’d see the planes created by those letters, unfolded and hang on the low ceiling of her bedroom. There were paper boats hanging there, too. They took up more space. I asked her about it once because I thought it was curious how a boat would stay afloat in the air. She said there are ships that sail in the sky, that they only appear at the most magical of times. She’d also said that they carry those who are lost, those who are gone. I couldn’t quite imagine boats drifting in the wind then, so I just convinced myself that the reason for it was because the boy she loves sails in a boat, there in the vast sea. This, I’m sure I know, was true.
Mom and Dad takes turns in putting me to bed. My dad would tell me all sort of crazy things until I fall asleep. Mom would bring me warm milk and stay with me and tell me how much she loves me. Sometimes, my sister would do it, too and she’d tell me a story. There were lots of them, but there was one that I cannot forget. It was weird though how that story gripped on me the most. My sister only ever told me about it once, and she didn’t even get to finish it. When I tried to ask her about it on the nights that followed, she just looked at me and told me she’d forgotten about it. The story was about a boy who appeared under the stars. It goes like this:
A family was expecting a new child until a tragic event happened. The mother had a miscarriage and the baby did not survive. The mother wept all night while the father comforted her with embraces and silent tears. The daughter also wept quietly in her room, and she was afraid to fall asleep because she was certain a nightmare would haunt her. The night after that, the daughter spoke to the stars. It was a warm summer night. My sister said the stars were a lattice in the sky. I didn’t know what “lattice” meant, but I’m sure it was something beautiful. She told them all about the things the family had lost. She talked until the night grew darker, and the stars twinkled as they listened. When it was already later than supper and it was time to go back inside, she heard a noise behind her. Someone said, “Hello”, and that someone’s voice sounded like a child. And so she looked around for where the sound came from. She eventually came upon a field on their backyard. There she saw, picking carnations on the ground, was a young boy who seemed so innocent but so lost. The daughter spoke to him, asked him his name. But the boy could not answer. He could not remember anything. The only words that came out of his mouth were “I’m cold” and “I’m lost.” The daughter was shocked, for despite letting all her sentiments out when she conversed with the stars, it was as if they heard the unspoken wish she had in her heart. The daughter brought the boy inside their home, for she looked around at the field and saw only the cold winds caressing him. The mother and the father were both surprised, but joyful for the boy’s arrival. They waited the next morning for someone who’d come looking for him, but no one came. They waited more on the days after that, but still, no one knocked on their door to take the boy away. They noticed he was happy in their home. He’d smile and laugh as if he had always belonged with them. They knew he didn’t share even the tiniest drop of blood with them, but they took him in and cared for him as they would with their own child. They gave him a name, one which he spoke on the first night he slept in his new home. The boy grew well, but as he became taller and older, he realized he can speak to the wind, to the earth, to the stars. He’d tell all the things they’d whisper to him at meals. His family would laugh, and they’d tell him it was because he was a gift to and from this world.
At that point, I don’t know what happens afterwards. It was probably because I slept at that part, or because my sister took too long to finish her narration. The story wasn’t much, but there’s something about it that mesmerizes me. And because I didn’t get to finish it, it makes me want to listen to it more. When I think about it, about the little boy who appeared under the stars, I understand more about the sailboats my sister hung on her bedroom. I can’t put it into words, exactly, but somehow, at that time when she first spoke of it, the sailboats that roamed the sky makes sense. And that was that too, the reason why I never stopped looking up, fascinating about the huge expanse of space above that changed its color for every hour that passed. I wanted to go up there, strap my helmet on and take off with a plane of my own someday. I’d spread out my wings and feel the soft touch of the clouds. I’d let the air ruffle my hair and gladly say hello to the sun before it can even peek out behind the mountains. I could even touch the stars, and I’ll hold them up and keep them in place. But by then, the sight of paper planes fluttering inside my home, going above old television sets and below dining tables is enough for a little kid like me, who declares himself as a captain of the sky, to laugh and love life.