The Art of Flying

When I was little, I used to dream about flying. These dreams were the same, every single time. I would stand on the roof of my bedroom, hands outstretched and trying to catch the gleaming stars as if they were fireflies. The sunset would paint the sky into a liquid mirror patchwork of russet and gold, and comets would slide across the horizon like drops of paradise, beckoning me to join them.

My feet would reach forward over the precipice of shingled tiles and there I would stand, perfectly balanced between the safe reality of the roof – held onto by my apprehensive heels – and the tantalising freedom of the air – tasted by my eager toes. And then I would reach forward, letting the wind carry me upwards into the sky.

Flying was indescribably joyful; never before nor since have I been so blissfully free.

I would brush my hands against the wind, painting the ranges of the rainbow into the sunset as I dove; I would play connect-the-dots with the stars, building constellations with my fingertips as I soared. I was invincible, and no one would ever be able to catch me.

Inevitably, I would be shocked back into heavy wakefulness, my limbs tangled in bedsheets, my body weighed down by blankets. My toes would still be tingling. My fingertips would still be outstretched, trying to touch this extraordinary dreamworld.

Most nights, I could fall asleep and find myself on the rooftop again, my feet half-touching freedom before the wind gathered me into its arms. Most nights I would revel in the glory of childhood innocence as I glided through the sky, drawing clouds into fantastic shapes and picking stars from the sky as if they were the sparkling fruits of a heavenly orchard.

But some nights would be empty, dreamless or nonsensical. I wouldn’t get to fly on these nights. And as time went on, as my wide eyes lost their curious gleam and my full, rosy cheeks hollowed under the scrutiny of time, I dreamed of flying less and less. I lost a little bit more of that dream each time I was graced with it; every time I blinked open my eyes after flying, I also blinked away a little bit more of my childhood.

I could feel my flying dream falling apart like it was a dying daisy; the flower petals were falling, one by one. And I? I was powerless to stop it.

It’s funny how quietly precious things disappear. I was losing my childhood silently, the way you lose eyelashes; perpetually and unconsciously. Before I knew it, my feet were too large for me to walk the line on my rooftop between safety and freedom without falling. Suddenly, I couldn’t imagine reaching forward into the wind, letting go, soaring. I was too fearful – I’d forgotten how to fly.


One month ago, I dreamed of flying again for the first time in a very, very long time. My feet traced their familiar path up to the roof as if they had been doing it every day since I was little; they positioned themselves on the edge, perfectly balanced between the safe reality of the roof – held onto by my apprehensive heels – and the tantalising freedom of the air – tasted by my eager toes.

For the first time ever, this dream was different. Instead of leaping forward into the sky as I always had, I looked to my left, where to my surprise I saw a little girl wearing a nightdress the colour of the ocean, standing just as I was, like a little bluebird about to take flight. I wanted to stop her, warn her that it wasn’t safe to jump, that she would fall.

But instead, when she stepped off the roof, the little girl flew, laughing as the wind carried her upwards into the sky.

There I stood, watching her dance through the air, twirling beside the dying rays of golden light, getting smaller and smaller. And then I too stepped off the roof, chasing the silhouette of my childhood as together we leapt away into the sunset.


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4 thoughts on “The Art of Flying

  1. Dear Ziyana,

    Before I came to the AP class, Ms. Hunnisett had sent me a link to the blog, and so your pieces were some of the first I read.

    Needless to say, they stirred a sense of awe and respect within me. You truly are a brilliant writer, an I know that I speak for everyone in the class when I say that you have an amazing mind!

    I am a total softly for nostalgia; reminiscence, to me, is so beautiful because memories are preserved, and thus difficult to taint. I loved your approach to this topic, and your opening paragraph really established that sense of an idyllic childhood. I also really liked the sunset imagery – the thought of golden-orange tones really helped me to dive into the feeling of the piece.

    I don’t know how I am supposed to find anything for you to improve on (because you are you and you have much more experience at this than I do, and I am usually too busy being in a state of awe after reading your work). I suppose, if only for the sake of offering something, I would say this: I kind of expected to see parallelism between the structure of the staring paragraph and the ending one. I was a little saddened to see that wasn’t the case, but your writing concluded so nicely that this seems to be more of a problem on my part. So it really is a non-issue.

    Once again, thank you so much for the work you put in to each of these pieces! It has truly been an honour to have gotten to read your blogs!


  2. Dear Tarannum,

    Thank you for your comment! I’m flattered that you think so highly of me, especially since I’m usually in awe of you!
    About your feedback – I was trying to create a full circle effect that had less to do with structure and more to do with what I was saying, but you’re right – having parallel structure at the beginning and end might’ve enhanced this. So, thank you for the suggestion!
    I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on this piece!! It really means a lot to me. 🙂


  3. Dear Ziyana,

    This is such a gorgeous piece of writing. Just WOW. It actually gave me goosebumps, particularly during the second and sixth paragraphs. You write in a way that is comparable to music, and I wonder if this isn’t why I got goosebumps. When music has that effect on a listener, it is called musical frisson, and it is often caused by the breaking of a pleasing pattern in an even more pleasing way. The way you create a rhythm and then suddenly break it to reinforce your idea is extremely skillful. Not sure if that makes any sense, but I’m not sure how else to express that.

    On another note, I absolutely loved your line, “It’s funny how quietly precious things disappear. I was losing my childhood silently, the way you lose eyelashes; perpetually and unconsciously”. This is a perfectly powerful analogy that fits with the overall peaceful, soft aesthetic of your writing. By anchoring your dream-like imagery with real-world examples, it graduates it from the realm of a beautiful piece to that of a hard-hitting, beautiful piece. There part about a child with toes reaching off the roof, tasting the night air, before leaping into flight is exquisite on its own, but this is not something that would exist outside of a dream, whereas the falling of eyelashes is perfectly tangible. This interplay of reality and imagination gives solidarity to your piece while mirroring the very themes you discuss.

    I have mixed feelings about your ending (mixed like 99.999 % love it and 0.0001% like it). I almost wished that, after nearly telling the child that she should not jump, the narrator would find herself unable to fly. This might be not only more dramatic, but a reinforcement to your argument that childhood imaginativeness (is that even a word?) and freedom is lost with age. However, I love the hope you present that we have only to leap from the eaves of our comfort zone to taste that freedom once again. The ending you included is certainly more in accord with the overall beauty of your writing, but I feel like a dose of tragedy may break the pattern of loveliness in an unexpected but satisfying way. Then again, I loved it all and don’t want you to change a thing about it!

    Can’t wait to read more of your work!


  4. Dear Lauryn,

    Thank you for your comment! I’ve been following your blogs all year, and to have a writer as excellent as you compliment my work really made my day! 🙂
    As for the ending, I chose to end it the way – with her jumping off the roof – because this is actually a non-fiction piece, and in the dream I had this is what happened. It was an amazing experience to get to have this dream one last time, almost like I got to have a full circle effect of my childhood through these dreams. So as much as I would have liked to play with the ending, I wanted to stay true to what actually happened in my dream.
    Thank you again for you comment and for the feedback, I really appreciate it!


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