On our daughter’s birthday we spend the day making a kite trimmed with rabbit fur. It is the only thing she has asked for. The tail is a chain of rabbits’ feet. Blue, then black, then gray, over and over until they form a circle around our bodies. As soon as it’s finished she runs outside with the kite, both of us hurrying behind. The owls appear almost instantly, then falcons and a few hawks. We try to shield our daughter, distract her from the carnage taking place above us, but she is laughing. Her hands are full of feathers and fur-kite confetti and she is smiling up at the sky.
Little was expected of the Wright brothers by those who knew them best. The citizens of Waterford, Ohio, who watched them ride their front-basket bicycles, trailing feathers back to the woods so many summer afternoons, who gossiped in diners and grocery aisles and eyed them disapprovingly while cutting their hair or trying to teach them about the Civil War, these people knew one thing for sure about Orville and Wilbur Wright: those boys would kill any and every bird they got their hands on. As for what they did with them afterwards, rumors ranged from witchcraft to taxidermy, neither of which could be considered appropriate activities for boys their age. And who could blame these people for thinking such things? For never realizing how tight the tether of gravity had grown, red and raw against the boys’ pale skin?
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