By Pam Plumb
There was a man sitting in the sky. Mum said we’d have the beach to ourselves so I was a bit cross when I saw him. He had a bright blue kite-thing that was really shiny underneath. Mum called it iridescence (she spelled it for me). It looked like the inside of the shell I found last summer, creamy and smooth. I wondered where he could have come from because we hadn’t seen him from the car. When I said he’d flown across from America mum told me not to be daft. But that’s where ad is and he flies back here.
There was another sky flier stuck on the hard round stones a bit further down the beach. His red kite was all folded. He kept looking up. I think he was jealous because he wasn’t sitting high in the sky like his friend.
Blue-kite man flew slowly up and away from us as we walked down the beach. The sea had come up all the way to the stones so we had to walk towards red-kite man instead of going onto the sand.
The sun was still shining even though it was way past bedtime. It had changed the colour of the beach. The white stones were really white and the pink ones had turned the colour of raspberry jam. A broken beer can sparkled like it was full of diamonds.
The closer we got to red-kite man I could see it wasn’t a kite. It was more like a parachute. The corners were flicking up but there wasn’t enough wind to pull it into the sky. And all the strings were mixed up.
‘He should run down the beach with it.’ I said to mum. That’s what I do with my kite in the park. I’ve got two kites actually; a yellow one and a stripy one. You have to run your fastest ever though, or it doesn’t fly.
‘I don’t think that would work.’ Mum had forgotten her sunglasses and held her hand over her eyes. I think the iridescence was blinding her.
‘Shall I go and tell him to run with it?’
‘No, Ally. Mind your own business.’ Mum never lets me do things. But I always see people who need help. When dad was here we helped an old man carry his bag up the steps at the airport. The man said he was glad we’d helped him. Dad had really smiled at me then.
I knew that if I could sort out the tangled strings I would be able to help red-kite man get up in the air to be with his friend.
Instead of helping, me and mum stood and watched the man get cross. Then a woman with a really posh camera came towards us. I thought she was going to take a picture of me and mum. It looked like she was pointing the camera right at us. Then blue-kite man started flying back towards us, right over our heads. Camera woman went mad taking photos of him. He was really low. It looked like he was going to land, but he swooped over us and took off again.
I wondered how the world looked to him in his armchair up in the sky.
Camera woman nearly fell over as blue-kite man went over us. Mum had to catch her by the elbow. Not exactly minding her own business, Mum started chatting to her. Camera woman wanted to know if the men were para-gliders or hand-gliders, but mum didn’t know.
I could see red-kite man shaking his head. His face was mostly covered by his helmet, but I could tell he was getting angry like I do when my drawings go wrong. The sun was nearly touching the sea and he probably needed to fly home. Mum and the woman were still talking. The woman was showing mum how the camera worked. I tried taking a few steps towards red-kite man and waited for mum to notice. For a minute I stood very still on the hard rocks while the sun changed the colour of my cheek.
She didn’t shout me back so I carried on.
As I got closer, I saw how big the kite was. Much bigger than mine, even my stripy one. Mum was right – running down the beach wouldn’t get him up in the air. The parachute lay flat across the stones, flapping like it was out of breath. The man had thick black gloves on that were making it hard to get at the muddled strings. He hadn’t heard me coming so he looked surprised when I reached out to help.
It didn’t take me long. Soon I had got all of the lines separated. I’m good at doing things like that. When I’d finished he smiled at me and gave me the thumbs up.
‘Stand back.’ he said and pulled hard at the strings. I was worried they might get mixed up again, but he must have felt the wind was just right because suddenly the kite filled up.
Two quick hops took him away from me then whoosh! When he got high enough he turned and smiled down at me from his armchair up in the sky.