On my fourteenth birthday Casey gave me a kite he'd made with old sheets he colored to match my bedroom wallpaper, and a tail made from the shiny paper Eddie's science-fiction magazines.

He'd found the instructions in an issue of Boy's Life, "You Can Make a Red Baron's Boomerang Steerable Flyer." The kite flyer was supposed to be able to determine the direction of flight, but somehow Casey missed that, if it was ever possible at all. Neither of us had ever seen a kite before, so we didn't realize Casey's creation was less than a model of aerodynamics. When I showed Casey's gift that night to Jane, who had come over for cake and ice cream with her sisters, she made a face and shook her head in bewilderment at my excitement. Of course, Johnny Vilchrist had given her a name bracelet for her birthday, which she been wearing since. I wouldn't have wanted a name bracelet, though.

The next day was Saturday, and we went to the MacDonnells' cow pastures for the maiden flight. The earth was soft from spring rain and the grass tufted but not yet over-long. Gently, we laid the kite, which was about four feet wide and tall, upside-down on the ground, the space alien decorated tail stretched out behind. Casey waited at the kite while I went forward into the field, trailing the string. When I'd gotten far enough, he picked up the kite and we started to run. After a little ways Casey, who had the kite held above his head, let go of it, then tripped and fell. The kite crashed to the ground a few feet ahead of him.

We tried for several hours, but we never did get that kite flying. Casey said it wasn't a windy enough day and I believed him. After lunch we left the kite, and roamed about the edges of the field. There was a creek, and I said I wanted to wade. He sat on the bank while I did, turning over rocks and upsetting the crawfish. The water was still very cold with runoff and my feet hurt to be in it. I sat beside him, put my feet on a rock to bake, and we talked.

Before we knew it the sky was orange and pink and the sun was dipping below the treeline. Casey helped me carry my reluctant but Steerable Flyer to my garage. We were both late to dinner.

"`The time has come,' the Walrus said,

`To talk of many things:

Of shoes--and ships--and sealing wax--

Of cabbages--and kings--'"