From the nest to new ventures, first flights are often fraught with hazzards and delights. Birds test their wings and people test their abilities. No matter what happens next, it is the first time that remains memorable.
Writers imagined those moments. The first leap, jump, departure. Some landed and some flew beyond our gaze.
The following stories are based on the August 13, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a first flight.
PART I (10-minute read)
First Flight by Charli Mills
The phoenix spent a lifetime reinventing herself. Each experience stabilized the bits, girding future wings. Her thoughts solidified. From dusty ashes, elegance rose. Sometimes her development caused an imbalance—she’d gain strength in one wing, leaving a talon incorporeal, a sooty ghost foot. Failure created more ashes, but ashes packed form like down in a pillow. Soft, at first, the padding transformed to muscle and bone. Fully engineered, the phoenix’s original vision improved with age and wisdom gained. A fire of kindness flamed her fully actualized self and she burned, a sacrifice to the ashes of her next life.
First Flight by Joanne Fisher
She was the strongest and first of her brood, and had eaten her brothers and sisters as soon as they hatched. Now she was perched on the cliff edge and something instinctive began to take over. Without even thinking, she launched herself into the air. As she plummeted, for the first time her wings began to stretch out. She swooped up into the blue sky, the red sun glistening on her scales. She knew she would grow larger and master this element. Nothing could defeat her now. She roared into the wind and the first trace of flame appeared.
First Flight by Colleen Chesebro
The wings were brand new. The two small buds on her back had blossomed into full-fledged wings covered with white feathers. She stretched these new extensions as far as she could, flexing the newly formed muscles taut.
She was sure that they made these new appendages for flying. How long had she wished to fly free like the eagle and the hawk?
She sniffed the air and pawed the ground. From a canter to a dead run, she was ready to spread her wings. At the cliff, the ground fell away, and she flew. It was unicorn’s first flight.
Flying Pizza by Geoff Le Pard
‘I tried to talk to that rock woman again, but she just got in the lake and swam away.’
‘She swam in that?’
‘She could be a mermaid.’
‘More like a nice maiden. Or it could be a version of our hard-wired response to danger.’
‘Haven’t you heard of the fight or flight response, Morgan?’
‘My hard-wired response is different.’
‘Of course it is. What do you do if danger threatens?’
‘I eat pizza.’
‘How on earth did those palaeontologists miss that third hard-wired response? It explains those Stone Age ovens.’
First Flight by kathy70
I’m taking the early first flight out this morning. Handy trick learned years ago that allow options if I miss it. DC is ugly hot this summer. Today’s assignment is to meet an old friend for lunch. Twenty years is a long time, I wonder how he’s changed. Will he know me? My job today is simply gathering information on what’s next years hot clothing color. How does a nice girl from Kansas get in the spy business? Should I have married that farmer? On my flight there is a familiar face in the next seat. “Hi I’m Dorothy.”
Betsy 1965 by Deborah Dansante
Callow listened as the weatherman told her she would wash away in the storm unless she got out now. The siren sounds the radio made when the warm winds blew down to Grand Isle from New Orleans helped Callow to believe this was true. Callow took up her lamp. Kneeling in prayer, Callow repeatedly raised her arms up and down, finally letting them fall gently to her sides. This was to remind Callow of what to do if she was to suddenly to take off flying with the hurricane. Callow fell asleep listening to the buzzing sounds of WWL.
First Flight by H.R.R. Gorman
It was our land which had the wind, the sand, the beach. It was here they assembled the pieces, here they first revved the engine, here they first left land. Here mankind first leapt to the heavens during 26 seconds that shrank the earth. Only five witnesses saw the first moments of mankind’s destiny, a destiny riding upon muslin, and aluminum engine.
Arise, children of Earth! Fly upon wings of intelligence and daring, upon the backs of bloody lessons learned! From a colony lost to the sky found, the Carolina coast is there.
Oh, and Ohio can suck it.
The One by Paula Puolakka
No 9/11. No pandemic. The airplanes could have not worked as weapons of mass destruction and a swift way to spread the virus if the citizens of the USA would have agreed with the One who tried to stop the madness from happening a long time ago. Instead, he was called crazy, locked inside a vault, and quietened.
The first flight can be observed after the first attempt to fly and after the first fall. Just listen to “Learn How to Fall” by Paul Simon, and you will realize that (ad nauseam) the truth will make you try again.
Metamorphosis, Revisited by Jeff Gard
Jerome’s thumbs peck the screen. His eyes burrow through layers of lamestream media to find the Truth. Hunched over his phone, bones strain at skin, T-shirt molting against expanding shoulder blades until leathery wings sprout.
Truth flees sentences, buzzing through air, swarming like gnats. Everything the establishment hides, deep state crimes of pedophilic cannibalism obfuscated by so-called experts – these morsels can only be consumed by minds adapted to bite-sized, carefully coded minutia.
Jerome chases the latest conspiracy out a window in dusk where other believers gather. They speak in stuttering chirps, guiding each other with the sounds of night.
A Flightening Experience from Back in the Day by Bill Engleson
“It was up there,” Ham Slater, the friendly, eager, local realtor said, pointing to the high bluff running along the skyline for a few miles.
“Yup. 1968. Hot summer evening, they say.”
“They?” I asked.
“Yup. Locals. Ones playing golf on the meadow below.”
“The island has a golf course?” I interrupted.
“Wellll…not officially. Mostly farmland. Sheep keep ‘er nicely chomped.”
“Ah,“ I said, not fully enlightened. “So, the bluff?”
“Zeke Buttworm, old time farmer…inventor. Built a glider…also tried…mescaline…young hippie girl Zeke was…courtin’…Lass was devastated.”
“Yup. Killed Zeke dead…and three sheep.”
“Oh! And one golfer.”
The First Flight by The Curious Archaeologist
He stood on the edge of the tower, checked his linen covered wings, took a deep breath and jumped.
They worked! He glided for nearly two hundred yards before the gust hit him, he struggled as he dropped, his wings broke his fall. He awoke in the infirmary with a broken leg. The Abbot beside the bed.
“Brother Elimer, my old friend, there must be no more flying. I don’t wish to bury you next time.”
“But if I had a bigger tail I could fly”
“Not now.” The Abbot was firm, “One day perhaps.”
The year was 1005.
First Flight by Frank Hubeny
The interviewer wanted to know whether Bird was scared when he jumped out of the nest for the first time.
Bird said, “Technically I didn’t ‘jump’. I flew. My wings moved. Soon the nest was far below me. I don’t know how it happened. It’s not like jumping. There’s a difference.”
The interviewer wondered, “Really? What’s the difference?”
He clarified, “You see, any monkey can jump out of a nest. You know as well as I do what will happen. I’m not going to go there. But birds, well – how do I put this? We don’t jump. We fly.”
Earth is Curvy by Simon Prathap D
It was his first time, he was nervous. He looked at the place around, the man at the opposite was busy securing belt all over his body. He took a deep breath and counted one and before he said two he was pushed away from the mountain, his first skydiving. His partner laughed at his screaming. In few seconds he started to feel the wind, the air, the landscape, the beautiful mountains and the animals that was running in the wild, it all said him one truth about the universe. ‘Earth is not flat, it is curvy’ he said.
First Flight by Liz Husebye Hartmann
She shifted her hips, attempting to get comfortable. Elbows on the counter, chin on fist, she gazed at the display, attempting to suss out meaning from the frothy spill of words. All gibberish. She sighed.
And she’d wanted to make a good impression.
He perched, mirror image to this beautiful woman, heels hooked on the stool’s rungs. He’d suggested this venue for its relaxed atmosphere, located between river and train. He also wanted to make a good impression.
“I don’t know beans about beer!”
“Trust me?” he leaned back. “Let’s share a flight. This brewery has a nice selection.”
Viewing the Nazca Lines by Anne Goodwin
“After breakfast is best. The first flight.”
Gulping coffee and empanadas de queso at sunrise before cycling to the airstrip, I wondered if I’d heard him right. My stomach lurched as the plane vaulted the perimeter fence. Just us, our guide and the pilot: no other tourists to block the view. Pre-Columbian geoglyphs etched in the desert: how did they make them? Why?
There’s the dog! The spider! The plane tilts, wings verging on horizontal. Hummingbird. Monkey. Tree. I cup my mouth, breakfast tastes sour the second time around. How did I misunderstand it? Definitely breakfast after: desayuno después.
Take Off, Eh? by Annette Rochelle Aben
The honeymoon flight from Detroit to Los Angeles was her very first. Not knowing what to expect, the young bride allowed her more well-traveled husband to guide her along the way.
He graciously gave her the ilse seat and held her hand gently while the flight attendant covered the emergency instructions.
As the plane pulled back, he reminded her that she should put the chewing gum in her mouth.
“Honey, look we’re climbing into the clouds!”
She leaned forward to take a look, and vomited on the back of the head of the person seated in front of her.
Her First Flight by Ann Edall-Robson
Desk, check. Window, check. Binoculars, check. Camera, check. Water, check.
She sat on a log, enjoying the vista. The sound of the creek chortling over the rocks made her smile. A shadow of a cloud floated within sight. Lifting the binoculars to her eyes she almost missed the hawk lifting of its perch. Its flight taking the predator out of camera range.
Her contented sigh caused a misty cloud in the cool, morning air. Picking up her pencil, she started to write. Her first flight to work from home was a success. Outdoor office days were here to stay.
Arriving by D. Avery
Signs and arrows made navigating the mazelike interior of the airport easier than she’d imagined. Still she was passed left and right by more experienced travelers towing wheeled suitcases, rushing down the wide corridor labeled “Departures”. She clutched her satchel and continued until she was in a glassed in peninsula thrust into a sea of tarmac, roiling with activity. She found her gate, a closed door really, but one that would open for her, take her away. Away at last. Seated close to this doorway she again examined her ticket. One way. She would be transported and then— “Arrivals”.
Just Another Baby Bird by Lottie M. Hancock
Women have mid-life crisis, too. Mine came with a thirty-six-foot wingspan.
Preflight checklist: Ready.
Doors latched. Check.
Fuel valve on. Check.
Butterflies in stomach. Check.
Trim set for takeoff. Check.
Heart raced. Check.
Wing flaps at 0. Check.
I kept the horizon level. The ground fell away.
My instructor stared straight ahead.
Power at 2200 RPM. Check.
The city I grew up in shrank. The sky grew.
I watched the gauges steady and trimmed the elevator.
A flock of geese formed around us. Just another baby bird.
Prepare for final approach. Check.
Regret having to land. Check.
Dear Butterfly, Love Caterpillar by Norah Colvin
You make the impossible seem possible. You inspire our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams. How can I be like you?
Dreams create possibilities but now you are exactly who you were meant to be.
Life is monotonous. Everyone does the same thing, day after day. Shouldn’t life be more than this?
Nothing happens overnight. Patience, determination and persistence will reward you in the end.
I’m tired. I can’t do this anymore. I think I will sleep forever. Goodbye.
Wake up, butterfly. It’s time to spread your wings and fly!
PART II (10-minute read)
Joshua by Saifun Hassam
Joshua was excited as the pilot flew the Aerial Research seaplane over the offshore waters. This was his very first aerial survey flight.
Digital cameras revealed incredible details of shapes and colors of underwater rocks, once fiery molten lava. It was a feast for him as an artist and a geologist. Sea crustaceans, sea urchins and sea stars, jellyfish, and sea horses seemed like delicate otherworldly creatures.
Working with other researchers, he would use aerial photography to probe for undersea archeological sites, search for fine differences in the waters and along the seabed where buried structures might lie hidden.
Discomfort by Reena Saxena
She cringed on seeing the large number of people who had come to see him off. Well, it was nice that his employers were sending him abroad at a raw age of 23, and he was the first in the family to fly abroad, but the crowd was kind of too large for comfort.
It was the first glimpse of a culture gap. They shared too much, they had no concept of discretion or privacy.
Years later, she evaluates her discomfort with his family and finds the same reasons. She needs space, but they are unaware of the concept.
Fallen by Joanne Fisher
in the end I was always
a child of the dark, even though
once I was a shining light
there I was, in Paradise
but my heart was uneasy
never a team player, all I wanted
was a change in the management,
I was cast out, and fell a long way…
Hell was already there, all I did
was make it my own, a reflection
of my own torment
my wings broken, through
the long millennia they began
to heal, until one day
I launched into the air
and for the first time flew
above my own dark kingdom
This Life by Marjorie Mallon
Three years ago, we said our goodbyes at the departure gate before that first flight. How I cried. I wept for a day, and the next day I wept without weeping. My darling daughter gone so faraway. She braved how scared she was. Now, she is adventuring again – not so far this time! And yet her friends miss her already. I miss her already. This is life, young adults are always moving, taking those steps to independence. They never leave your thoughts. They’re always a part of you, wherever they are.
Daughters always remain in your heart.
First Flight by Anita Dawes
As we grow older
We tend care a little more
About the young ones
Children, animals, it doesn’t matter
If they’re young
We acquire a mothering apron
Fussy over their first steps
Eager that they don’t fall
A fall may put them off trying
God helps us when it comes to their
First steps to foraging for themselves
Mother mode goes into overdrive
Unfortunately, we cannot keep the door
Closed to the grown-up world
Wanting to, can’t make it so
You can only hope and pray
That you did a good job
Trust that you have
And let go…
First Flight by Christine Bialczak
When granny died mommy said that she went to heaven I don’t know if I know where heaven is or if it’s really even a place because when mommy told me the tooth fairy came and took my first tooth I think she was lying because I saw my tooth in the bottom of the trash can in the bathroom mommy said maybe the tooth fairy went in the bathroom for a drink and dropped it by accident and that I should just be happy with my dollar bill but I would be happier to know where granny went.
First Solo by Donna Matthews
Charlie was out of bed before his mom came in to wake him up. He’d laid out his clothes the night before, and he couldn’t wait to wear his new tennis shoes. Running down the hall toward the kitchen, his mom intercepted him, leaned over, kissed his head, and asked him if he was ready. “Yes!” he nearly screamed. Barely tasting his cereal, he grabbed his new spiderman backpack full of all the new pencils, erasers, and folders and hopped at the front door. “Let’s go mom!”
She sighed, her baby on his first solo flight known as kindergarten.
What Grandmothers Do by Eliza Mimski
She’d been there with him the first day of kindergarten, waiting anxiously at the classroom door when school was over.
She’d been there with him when he’d needed surgery on his toe, him later laying on the couch with his pain medication and Ritz Crackers on the coffee table.
She’d been there with him at every baseball game, basketball game, and she’d picked him up from his martial arts class.
She’d picked him up from middle school and taken him to get pizza, then to Burger King when he was in high school.
Now he was eighteen. Entering college.
First Flight by Susan Zutautas
It was all set, soon we would become empty nesters. It was sad to see them leave, and I knew we would miss them, but they had to go and start new lives and families of their own. I am sure we would see them from time to time and for visits on birthdays and holidays.
One bright sunny July morning we all woke up and I knew it was the day to teach the little ones how to fly.
Okay kids it’s flying day and we’re all going to go together. Watch what I do and follow me.
Fledgling Dancers by Sue Spitulnik
Before she moved home, Tessa’s sister had kept her informed about Michael’s growing involvement in community activities since his return. Ally had never mentioned a bar called the “No Thanks Needed,” nor the Irish dancing classes being held there.
Soon after she arrived in town, Michael invited Tessa to go watch. She had never seen Irish dancing up close and was surprised the youngest of the dancers were only eight years old. Compared to their teachers, Thad and Katie, the children looked like fledgling birds trying their wings for the first time. They were tittering like young birds too.
First Flight by Michael Fishman
I can’t say he took it all in, but today was a beautiful day for a first flight. The sun shined down from a bold blue sky and lit the runway.
“Ground control to Captain Griffin.”
“We’re a ‘go’, Captain.”
And just like that things started to speed up.
“You got it?” I huffed as I started to run faster.
“I think so.” His voice was a little shaky, but not from fear.
“I’m letting go now, Griff. Hold the handles and keep pedaling.”
“I— I got it, dad!”
And just like that my son was flying.
First Flight by R. V.Mitchell
He was nervous, but the amount he had been offered was more than a mere street urchin could hope to acquire in a month. Now, standing on the rooftop, and the distance to the piazza seemed impossible.
Angelo felt the harnesses being tightened around his emaciated frame, and the canvas and weight of the wooden frame made him wonder if the experiment could ever work.
“Now,” the Leonardo called from the ground, and Angelo felt a shove from behind. He immediately crashed onto the cobbles.
“Not bad for a first flight,” Da Vinci said, looking down on the boy.
Fight or Flight by Doug Jacquier
Every schoolyard has it’s Bomber, so-called for his propensity to drop tucked-legged from the high board at the local pool and make tidal waves that left smaller children spluttering. Big for his age, monobrow hovering over piggy eyes, permanent Band-Aids on his knuckles from the dragging and never short of choices for lunch. I knew my turn at victimhood would eventually come and it did the day I asked him to desist from inserting my friend’s head into a toilet bowl. Leering excitedly at the opportunity for fresh blood, he ambled towards me and my first flight began.
First Flight by Irene Waters
Unaware of the steps his momentum sent him flying through the air, arms and legs akimbo. The letter he’d been reading floating gently in the breeze behind him. His thoughts were those of a drowning man. This is what it feels like to fly? First his childhood, then the small amount of adulthood he’d experienced. Should have told Alison I love her. Should have written a will. A bellyflop onto concrete that’ll hurt.
He landed hard. He momentarily felt like Humpty Dumpty before all thought left him.
Alison screamed. “Don’t die. Not when you’ve just inherited and can live.”
First Love by Kerry E.B. Black
He stared, a heat-seeking missile intent upon its target. She swayed to the music, spellbound, her motion a metronome, unaware of his interest until her friends elbowed her and whispered their giggling observations. She startled at his intensity but didn’t shy away. No, his open desire found in her an equal audacity. Without regard for decorum, she fantasized a relationship. It happened in a flash, an atmospheric conflagration that propelled her heart from its protection into the realm of pre-teen romance. The lead singer proclaimed nonsense and thinly veiled entendres while her heart took its inaugural flight of fancy.
Learning to Fly by JulesPaige
was judgement clouded
when the elementary
student left at lunch
first time run-a-way; gone south
trying to find those who cared
since it was so clear
that one little voice would not
be heard by adults
Over the years; still no one would listen. More attempts were fathomed, planned, engineered and carried out. No real truths were ever revealed leaving the past misted in disillusionment. No real resolutions, except to forgive those striving to do their best for themselves with only second thoughts to those around them. The pain lessens. Clouds parted for true love, laughter and compassionate hope.
A Graduate by Ruchira Khanna
Traditional hat toss. Some motion blur.
He throws his graduation cap in the air while I have tears flowing down my eyes.
He’s no doubt very excited about the ‘freedom’ that he’ll get. That involves no reminders or nagging from my end to do things.
As a parent, I ought to step back and give him wings to make his first flight away from home. Only then, I guess, he’ll realize the importance of all that care, love, attention, and the need to manage time well, that he used to knit brows upon.
As the wise said, “Give them wings to appreciate what they had.”
Basket Case by D. Avery
“Whoa, Kid. Stop. Back up. What’re ya plannin’?”
“Pal, this is gonna be great! We’re gonna fly!”
“Prompt says anythin’ or anyone thet flies, but I’m tellin’ ya, Kid, I ain’t goin’ in any flyin’ contraption. ‘Specially if Pepe LeGume’s runnin’ it. What in heck’s he know ‘bout aeroplanes anyway?”
“Ain’t gonna fly in a aeroplane, Pal. Pepe’s got a more economical idea.”
“Oh, jeez, Kid, what’re you two up too?”
“We’ll be up, up and away in a hot air balloon! An’ guess how Pepe plans on fuelin’ it?”
“Oh, the humanity!”
“Pepe’s an amazin’ human bean alright.”