Eevy Menkos licked her finger and jabbed it skyward. Her tongue flicked between her lips. Her eyes narrowed in concentration. Then she yipped, kicked her heels together and took a running leap over the rosebush. She skidded left and right along the path. The patio door banged shut behind her.
Grass blades dipped and shivered. Bees hummed. The orange tree rustled. The door creaked. A bare foot emerged through the crack, followed by a leg, an elbow, and a shoulder.
Eevy sidled through the opening, pinching a fragile contraption between her index fingers and thumbs. It was a kite. She trotted back along the path to the ivy covered wall of the house, and set the kite on the ground. Then she peered up at the roof, measured the distance with her eyes, and fed ten loops of nylon string onto her forearm. She hopped onto the ladder and clambered up, releasing a loop of string every few rungs. Bits of rust flaked off under her palms. At the top she crawled onto the slope of the roof, swiveled around and scooched her butt two times to get higher. Then she arched her neck so she could see the ground, tugged the end of the string, and reeled it in.
The kite lifted off, swung to and fro, then rose higher.
In moments Eevy had it between her fingers again, with the nylon string rolled onto its pencil stub. She scooched her butt six times, then rocked onto her feet. In two steps she’d reached the peak of the roof. Here she set the kite down again, gave herself two loops of slack, and jumped vertically. Her fingers hooked over the lip of the brick chimney. She wiggled and writhed until she got a knee up, then pushed herself upright, one foot on either side of the chimney hole. Eevy grinned, licked her finger, and jabbed it skyward.
A puff of wind sucked it dry.
Below in the garden, the orange tree rustled. Then it shook. A gust rattled through it, tearing leaves and flinging them skyward. The gust hit the corner of the roof and zoomed towards the peak. It rushed under the kite, under its fragile bones and colored panes. It ruffled the tissue paper, forced the whole thing up, then flung it end over end. Eevy shouted and snatched at her nylon string. Her fingers fumbled. The pencil nub dropped. She swung her arm out, caught a floating piece of string, and yanked.
Her kite shot skyward, sank, then rocketed higher. Another gust hit the orange tree, the roof, the chimney. It smacked Eevy behind the knees. She yipped and hollered and yanked. String zipped through her fingers. The kite soared up and up and up, growing smaller. Its tail danced. Sunlight shone through its tissue paper body.
Another gust. It slammed into Eevy’s back, bent her knees, snuck the last bit of string from her grip. She lunged for it. Lost her balance. Flailed, and tipped off the chimney. She tumbled down the roof, bouncing from back to knees to hip to shoulder blades to wrists to—
The roof vanished and she dropped.
Wind whiffled through the orange tree, then wafted down to the figure on the grass. Eevy lay limp and pale faced, her arm in a cast. When the wind moved against her she twitched, then went still. An orange blossom twisted loose and plummeted, twirling. It landed on her cheek.
She didn’t brush it off.
Two eyes peeked over the lip of the roof, then a nose, and a tight-lipped mouth. Eevy pulled herself up off the ladder. Both her arms were bare, one tanned and dark, the other thin and pale. She crawled forward, then flattened onto her belly. A tear trickled down her cheek.
Her tongue flicked out and licked it.
She lay her forehead on the roof, smelled it. A breeze wafted up her legs and ruffled the kite tied to her back.
Eevy raised her head. She peered at the peak of the roof. Then she bent her arms, raised her shoulders and hauled herself forward on her forearm. One. She used the other arm this time. Two. Three.
She army-crawled to base of the chimney. Then she inched herself to her knees, using the bricks to steady herself. Biting her lip, she unwound a heavy rope and fed it around the base of the chimney. She clicked the carabiner to the harness around her waist and tugged, gently and then with greater force.
A breeze flicked over her face. Eevy got to her feet and stood with her arms wide and legs splayed.
Fingers shaking, she tugged the kite off her back and gave herself four loops of slack.
The orange tree rustled.
A slow smile spread across Eevy’s face. She licked her finger and jabbed it skyward.