My grandpa is an aviation nut. He was in the Army Air Corps during WWII, he was a mechanic on B17 aircraft while in the service. He had a stack of Aviation magazines next to his reclining chair my entire childhood, and he would regularly take me to any airport we happened to be near in order to watch planes take off and land. He would also buy and build gliders and kites with me.
One day when I imagine I was about 6 years old, he bought us a box kite to build together and fly. A box kite is a simple design, it didn’t take long, and then we were off to Thompson Park to give it a fly.
I remember grandpa holding it up while I held the string. Watching it rise and rise, feeling it pull against the string as it was lifted. It went the full length of the string and then drifted off to my right. It kept going with the wind until it was above the lot where our car was parked. This was the first flight, the very first attempt, by the way. It just flew and it was great.
Then the wind shifted, and it began to drop. As it slowly started to fall, the string became limp. Grandpa instructed me to pull the string in, and so I wound it around the spindle as fast as I could. But the kite continued to drop. It fell right at the entrance to the lot where our car sat. Then, before I even could look to grandpa, all in one seemingly choreographed movement it hit the ground, a car pulled up next to it, opened its door, a hand reached out, grabbed the kite and pulled it in. The door closed, the car drove off.
The string must have been snapped or cut. That’s a loose thread to this story I can’t remember. Or loose string as it were. I do remember looking at grandpa, and him looking at me, and both of us struggling to understand what just happened. The oddly, beautifully timed, super-disappointing theft of my kite during its first flight.