Kite is the fourth of ten short stories published as a collection by writer and filmmaker Christopher J. Aran in his book entitled, Awake While Dreaming.
When a man wanders in search of true love, he find the gateway to his happiness through a kite.
Another day at the office. Another look in the bathroom mirror. More balding. Less socializing. More work. Less leisure time. Technology makes things easier, like being able to send and receive emails and shop from the convenience of my pocket smartphone. Easier means time for more work pretty much for the same reasons. Emails from work at 2:30am when I should be off the clock, but my clients are halfway around the world and awake wanting to buy from my company from the ease of their pocket smartphone. Get the picture? This is the vicious cycle I’ve been living since I graduated from college. My parents used to tell me “well back in my day,” which of course I would cut short with describing my workload, my work week and my relative pay. What happens at 35 years old when a man works in a cubicle selling life insurance or airline tickets? When he sells stocks and bonds, or vitamins? This guy, me, wants to set it, the office that is, on fire and walk out of the building laughing a maniacal laugh. The country is filled with these tiny little walls where we sell shit to people we’ll never meet. My company, the one I work for anyway, we sell metals. We rape and pillage the earth of it’s goods then sell it to the highest bidder. Cold, lifeless raw materials. Just like the people I sell to. That’s what I do, but that’s not who I am. The job is manageable but what gets me is the daytime walk past all the other cubicles. I see photos of happy couples. Kids, grandkids, nephews and nieces. My desk has photos of swimsuit models my buddies posted up on my 35th birthday. That reminder I’m still single. Still the bachelor. This is a problem I’ve had and am dying to change. I can deal with my shit job but I’m tired of being alone. Back in my parent’s day, they fell in love and got married young; and yes they’re still happy. A small miracle in the modern world. Their life was simpler. Those stories are the ones I would actually listen to. Those stories are the ones I wish I could live.
Lunch time usually rolls around 12:30pm on the nose, give or take a few minutes. I guess that’s not on the nose, but it’s close enough. Last Monday, at that close enough, but not soon enough lunchtime, I sprung up out of my plastic swivel chair and headed straight to the coffee shop. It’s no secret at the office or anywhere really, that I’m addicted to the little ground beans. The evidence of an addict besides the shakes and headaches when not having coffee, are the cups all over the desktop and in the trashcan. Little monuments to achieved stimulation. Usually by this time of the day I get sleepy but the coffee shop lines are also the places where I’ve noticed single women. Lots of them. It’s been a thing of mine recently. The hint of a childhood hopeless romantic testing fate to see if I’ll meet the one on line ordering an iced coffee. Or maybe she’ll be sitting reading a book at a table with an open chair begging me to come sit and talk to her. I see the scenario daily and I play out the fantasy in my mind, but it’s usually followed by the reality of a friend rejoining her from a quick trip to the restroom. Or that awkward moment where I’ll spot a diamond ring that blinds me as it catches the midday sun. The worst scenarios are spotting that gorgeous figure, shampoo ad perfect hair, then watching her turn around and realize she’s probably in high school. I hear a distant sound in my mind, like the clicking of handcuffs as they tighten around my wrists. I’m either getting too old or the girls these days are looking more like women. Either way it’s been hopeless. If there is a woman I’m meant to be with, she isn’t in the coffee shop, or in my office building. I haven’t seen her at my gym early morning or late night. She’s not at my favorite restaurants or in my immediate circle of friends. I thought maybe a new approach was necessary. So I walked to the magazine stand and picked up every exotic travel mag I could find. I knew I’d have a few weeks of vacation coming up soon so why not?
I took the stack back with me and started rifling through the pages, mostly enjoying the photos but taking the time to read some of the articles. They mostly only described places I could imagine based on staring at the pictures and letting that imagination run wild. Palm trees, white sandy beaches. Yes cliché and corny but remember, that’s what my life was lacking. The colorful curvy glass filled with something sweet and something that would put my senses at ease. All this, and hopefully an equally curvy, intellectual temptress. Kill me with those curves and your mind. Where are you and why haven’t we met?
So of course I went back to work with more coffee and now this stack of magazines. In between taking phone calls I glanced through the pages until my boss caught me. He asked where I was planning on going. I said nowhere and pretended I was really busy with a client on the phone. As he walked away, he kindly reminded me that I had to request time off at least two months in advance. I hung up my fake call and cursed him silently while watching him strut like a duck down the hallway of cubicles. Jerry poked out his curious head and saw me staring. He gave our boss, who shall remain nameless of course because he really isn’t worth knowing, the finger. Jerry made me smile but the boss was right. I’d have to make a decision soon if I was going to take leaving for a while seriously. The problem wasn’t money. It was where to go. I wanted to search for her. But where would I start? I couldn’t travel the globe on a whim. I was comfortable, but not rich. So when the day came to an end I packed my magazines along with my daydreams, and took them home with me.
The highway was slammed with traffic as usual but watching the sun go down in southern California isn’t the worst view in the world. Even when you’re stuck on that major highway that generally looks more like a parking lot. So I sat and stared at the other cars. I looked through as many windows as I could and found comfort that every driver was alone. Maybe they were going home to their husbands or their wives. Maybe their lovers or their kids. But for that time at least, we were all alone together. I got home and dropped my magazines next to the ones I’d purchased the previous week. A small tower dedicated to exotic places seemed to be growing in my little apartment. Can you tell I’d been dying to leave? I walked to the kitchen and pulled some cold leftover noodles from the fridge and sat in front of my TV to eat. This was how most nights went.
The weekend arrived and after staring at so many magazines of beaches around the world, I figured why not take advantage of the one I had right down the road. I hopped in the car and drove to Santa Monica. I parked the car, grabbed my little parking ticket, and headed straight for the pier. There was a little carnival there with a Ferris Wheel I remember riding when I was younger. I know it’s not really a place to find a single woman but for nostalgias sake I went. I crossed over the little bridge onto the boardwalk and wandered into the carnival. The games seemed smaller and the charm it had when I was younger just wasn’t there. I saw kids with green hair and torn jeans. I saw mothers pushing carriages with screaming kids. I saw couples. Happy couples and sad couples. Couples fighting about not having enough money to throw little sandbags at a few cans to win a stuffed cat doll. I wished I had someone to argue with over something so trivial. Their distress made me smile. I saw couples sharing ice cream and cotton candy. Something I’d probably eat on my own, but have heard tastes better when shared. I wandered deeper into the carnival and spotted a little fortune telling machine. I walked up to it and stared at the plastic face begging me for a quarter to read my fortune. I dug into my pocket, grabbed a coin and fed the machine. The old gears buzzed and some lights flashed and then…..nothing. The stupid thing was busted. I stared a bit longer hoping there would be a delayed reaction but the plastic face wouldn’t reveal her secrets to anyone. Then in the reflection of the glass I saw a woman. A gorgeous young woman with dark mysterious hair and inviting facial features standing right next to me. For a moment my heart fluttered and I wondered if she was real. Was this the secret the paint chipped old fortuneteller was giving me? Her reflection seemed to be holding me and so, stomach full of butterflies, I turned around to speak to her …