Pageant Part 8

There were two more rehearsals before the day of the pageant. The children whose parts had been changed and who had new lines to learn were willing to go along with the secrecy demanded of them by Kim because they felt sufficiently special now that they had been promoted from entirely superfluous extras to speaking roles. Few of the children knew the full impact of the lines they were learning and few, therefore, felt any need to tell their parents. Kim and Craig’s plan to challenge town gossip one final time was allowed to flourish unnoticed.
Braydon, on the other hand, was slowly tiring of his part as the star. Central though it was to the set, and much though the audience’s eyes would be drawn to him, there was little to maintain their interest or his once the initial novelty had worn off. At first the sensation of being elevated by the improvised harness gave him the feeling that he imagined his father must feel on the occasions that he flew. Yet the sensation soon left him as, dangling static above the tree, he found that he could do very little apart from simply stay there.
Slowly, however, he began to experiment with the potential of his position. If, he reasoned, he actually could fly, then he could simultaneously make his father proud of him and prove to all and sundry that not only his father but in fact all the men in the family were capable of flight. Granted, his previous attempts at flight had been unsuccessful, but surely that was because his father had not been there to give him the courage or inspiration he needed. Now, finding himself able to swing a little within his position above the tree, he slowly and surreptitiously tried to stretch further. If he could find something, for instance, against which to push his feet, which, although positioned awkwardly behind him, were still free, then perhaps he could give himself a good “run-up” for taking flight. And so, while everyone else slowly rehearsed their lines (“Virgin birth? So typical of that family. Always making excuses…”), Braydon experimented with ways of swinging slowly backwards, stretching out his feet, finding just how far they could go without drawing attention to himself.
You see, the star costume worked like this. The harness went around Braydon’s chest. It held him up while his arms were stretched out in the upper points of the star. He hovered above the tree, held up by the harness, but his knees were also positioned on a platform behind the tree. His feet were resting behind him. The wall was a little less than a metre behind. It was possible, courtesy of the harness, for Braydon to remain positioned above the tree while moving his feet slightly. His legs, however, were not long. The men of the family were only medium in height, and Braydon was a late bloomer. Free though his legs were, it was a difficult process to move them backwards while keeping the star – a kind of awkwardly constricting shield – remaining above the tree.
Braydon, however, did not tend to take these kinds of factors too much to heart. He rarely thought of most factors beyond the most immediately apparent. Besides, he only needed to stay in place above the tree while he figured out how to swing. Then, once the dimensions of the space around him had been mentally calculated, it would be the perfect opportunity to fly. Anyway, the harness would keep him safe. Relative to other choices Braydon had made in his short life thus far, this was one of the more carefully managed and safe. What risk assessment Braydon conducted, limited though it was, far exceeded any he had ever done before this moment.
And, by the night of the performance, he was fairly sure he had it all figured out.
Go to Part 9

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