But Can it Fly?

She was alone.

A prisoner by her own cause.

She referred to herself as an anti-socialite, mocking the girls with florescent tans and platinum hair. The boys paid her no mind, it didn’t affect her ego.

Sitting on throne of lies, she cast aside the lives of people she felt did her wrong. The limbs of her enemies lay at her feet. As the pile continued to grow her little sister complained of missing Barbie dolls.

Lilly, a beautiful girl tossed aside by those she most yearned acceptance from. A girl who detested any social norm. A girl who rebelled against what the glossy pages of photo-shopped magazines pushed into the minds of her peers – she now referred to them as cowards. Her long black hair made her a target. Her once open heart and sweet cherub-like cheeks soon became stained black by tears.

Emptiness took over.

It’s not so much that I enjoy being alone, she would say to herself, but at least then I can be with someone who loves me.

There wasn’t much to say to her parents, they didn’t understand why she acted the way she did.

Even by her own admission she was spoiled.

Her father ran a law-firm in the city and her mom was the owner of an interior design firm that was operated out of their home.

Both parents were attentive and loving, they did their best to support everything their daughters did. Lilly was a challenge – they knew she was harmless – because of her unwillingness to talk to them about her problems.

Notebooks full of poems, doodles, journal entries, recipes, “How Josh Brown’s Eyes Solve All The Worlds Problems” – a small essay about Josh Brown’s eyes – and a list of potential colleges that listed Brown at the top instead of Harvard – number 3 – with no relation to Josh Brown’s eyes.

It’s not so much that she didn’t want to have friends, but she didn’t want to get hurt again.

For two weeks in 6th grade she had a fling with Russell Irving – if you could call that a fling – when she was still a red-head and when he was the bad boy all the girls knew was perfect for make-out sessions in the handball courts after school.

During those two weeks Lilly fell in love – or what she knew of love – and would spend every minute of her being thinking about what Russell was doing.

One night she decided to sneak out of her house after her 9pm bedtime and walk the quarter of a mile over to Russell’s house. This, of course, was before the widespread addiction to cell phones that has arguably created less meaningful relationships and a culture that has found itself dependent on information that is becoming more and more available but also less and less significant, unless it’s about what celebrity has a sex tape this week.


When she arrived she saw that Russell’s bedroom light was on. Not the overhead one but the desk lamp that he kept on his nightstand. There was an empty picture frame that Lilly didn’t understand why he kept it that way. Russell thought he was an intellect and gave an answer that seemed poetic – especially to an 11 year old who was in love, whatever that meant.

“The emptiness of the frame represents my heart when you’re not with me.”

If her eyes could turn into hearts, like those in so many cartoons, they would upon those words leaving his lips.

Approaching Russell’s window, Lilly started to hear a heated conversation.

“But can it fly?!” A booming male voice demanded an answer.

“I’m not sure. You yelling at me isn’t helping though.”

“This needs to work! The world depends on it!”

Lilly wasn’t sure what she was listening-in on but knew enough that she should remain out of sight.

She set herself up just outside Russell’s window where she could remain in the shadows but still see and hear what was going on inside. Russell and another man who appeared to be in his 20’s, who looked a lot like Russell, were huddled over what appeared to be an old black-and-white television set with a small ceiling fan attached to the top.

“It’s almost time, we need to do this now!” The man yelled.

“Alright, let’s go to the roof.” Russell said.

Lilly found another area in the dark where she could hide and observe the actions of these two.

“We have 30 seconds, hook up the battery.” The man said.

Russell hooked up the battery and the fan started spinning quickly. Each second that passed the blades circulated at a higher rate. After 15 seconds the blades were spinning so quickly that they became almost invisible and the TV set started to lift off the ground.

“Turn it to UPN now!”

Russell turned on UPN and the two embraced.

Another 10 seconds had passed, 5 seconds to go.

The question was finally answered and the TV could fly.

As the words “West Philadelphia born and raised” ended the TV and the older man disappeared. If she was forced to describe it, Lilly would say it was a lot like the way an older TV would turn off almost like the picture imploding in on itself until a small blip flashes and disappears forever.

Russell took a few steps back and couldn’t believe his eyes.

“Russell!” Lilly yelled.

She was so overwhelmed by what she just saw she couldn’t help herself from yelling to the boy that she loved!

Russell looked down and saw her standing in the porch light his parents left on so they can put the dog out before they go to bed. His eyes opened wide and he was frozen. Their eyes locked and there was a moment of understanding that they just shared something incredible. Something almost unexplainable.

Five years passed since that moment. She carried it with her every day and still didn’t fully understand what really happened. At the age of 16 you’re still trying to figure out who you are and what you want to do with your life, not trying to get over losing the person you thought was the love of your life.

Sometimes Lilly walks over to Russell’s house in hopes that she will see him standing on his roof and that all of this was just a nightmare. At least once a month she will climb up there and look for some kind of clue, an answer to what she witnessed.

Russell took his life that night. He was a product of an abusive family life. All the horrid details came out in the weeks following his suicide. His mom finally left his father and moved to Saratoga Springs, his father got what he deserved in the way of a pole that he wrapped his car around one drunken night.

Lilly had a great relationship with her aunt and went to spend a week with her during her summer break. Lilly and her parents thought it might be a good way for her to reclaim her youth and become a happier person. At the very least Lilly could get some meaningful rest and writing in.

Her aunt thought it would be a good idea for them to take a trip into Philadelphia, hopefully the history of the surrounding area will spark some creativity in Lilly’s young mind. One of the stops was at the Edgar Allen Poe house where Lilly purchased a copy of “The Raven”. She sat down against the brick wall of the house.

A man approached Lilly, “I love that poem.”

Lilly smiled and nodded her head.

“Ravens are beautiful.”

Lilly again did her best to ignore the man.

The man then sat down next to her, “But can it fly?”



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