The wings of freedom

— Urgh, I hate this! — Cried Thomas as he rolled upon the small step to get into the house — Even to enter my own house I have to deal with steps! And the worst of all is that I can’t even fix it myself…

— Don’t worry Tom, I’ll make a ramp out of this step for you later — Said his grandfather — You have to remember that your father never thought that you’d be in a wheelchair when he built this house.

— Yeah, and he’s not alone. No one in this entire city thought about it. Actually I’m beginning to think that they put so many obstacles on purpose, just to mess with people in wheelchairs... Today I had to be carried to get inside the City Hall, otherwise I’d be facing that giant stair until now.

— I’m sorry that you feel that way, but it’s been five years now. I know it’s not easy, but you have to grow out of it.

Thomas didn’t reply and with an angry face rolled to his bedroom. The door way however was too narrow and the wheelchair got stuck.

— Fuck this damn wheelchair!!! And fuck this damn house!!! — Shouted Thomas as he burst into tears

Gregor approached and hugged his grandson.

— I can’t do this anymore… I’m tired granpa… — He cried as the tears rolled down his face

— You have to be strong son. I know that right now it doesn’t look like, but this phase will pass.

Thomas remained silent for a while and with a stream of hope asked:
— And what can I do besides getting stuck in stupid doorways?

— How about picking up a hobby that you had before the accident? — Asked Gregor with a sweet smile.

Thomas’ expression got more severe showing a mix of deep sadness and rage — I lost my only hobby along with my legs and my dad in that accident.

Gregor almost hit himself. How could he forget? The long time away made him forget that his son used to take Thomas to hang glide since he was four. Of course he couldn’t keep the hobby now, how could he land without his legs?!

And then a light came up in Gregor’s head!
 — It’s late son, you should go to bed. We can talk in the morning.

Gregor helped his grandson to move the wheelchair pass the doorway and kept an ear on the bedroom until he was sure that Thomas was sleeping. He moved silently to the garage and started to work on the project. The project itself was quite simple, but Gregor had to do everything very quietly not to wake up Thomas.

In the morning Thomas was woken up by a zombie version of his grandfather. He had clearly spent the night up and his body was too old for this kind of thing. But still, he was so energetic that never seemed so alive. He insisted on getting Thomas outside, even though it wasn’t even 7 am yet.

When Thomas got to the front yard he didn’t understand what his grandfather was trying to prove setting up the hang glider in front of the house. Then his eyes got used to the light and he saw what kept his grandfather up all night.
His hang glider was now adapted with training wheels on its sides in a way that Thomas could now land like an aircraft, without the aid of his legs.

In that same morning they packed up and when to the old farm where Thomas’ father had built a ramp on the top a hill to take off with his hang glider. The boy was excited but very nervous at the same time. This would be the first time that he flew in five years, and the first time ever without his father. After everything was set and all the security measures were checked Gregor asked:

— Are you ready son?

To which Thomas simply node with a straight face.

Gregor proceeded to push the hang glider out of the ramp with all the strength that he had left. The old hang glider went down. Gregor started to panic. What if the wings were to old? Hadn’t he pushed fast enough? What if Thomas were taking the opportunity to end his life? And as Gregor got closer to the edge of the ramp there it was, coming from beneath and going higher and higher. Thomas flew like a bird.

Thomas’ straight face became an ear-to-ear smile. The breeze on his face and the view of the farm underneath brought him dear memories of his dad. The tears that now rolled down his face were made out of pure joy. He felt free. Free from the grief, free from the disability and free from depression. He danced in the air, going wherever the wind took him, but knowing that he was the one in control.