tako kichi

There once was a girl determined to fly a broken kite. She didn't know it was broken, of course. Every time she couldn't get it skyward, she just made up a new excuse.

"Not enough wind today."

"The string must be too heavy."

"If only I could run faster..."

Some days she was so discouraged by her failure, all she could do was sit sadly, holding the kite, wishing desperately to see it soar. She ran her fingertips across its smooth paper, ignoring the splinter in her thumb. She wound its tail around her wrist over and again, loving the sense of being tied to something so beautiful. "Next time," she said. "Tomorrow for sure."

The girl didn't tell anyone about the trouble she was having. It was too embarrassing to admit. After all, she thought she had everything necessary to achieve flight.

Then one day, she found the crack in the kite's frame. It was large and obvious, and she felt stupid for not seeing it before. She let disappointment wash over her like icy wind, and tried not to feel angry about her wasted efforts. She admitted her shame to her friends, who laughed and hugged her. "The only thing you're being stupid about," they said, "is acting like that's the last kite on earth."

She smiled back, knowing they were right, even while thinking: Not the last. Just the one I wanted most. And then she noticed how welcome the cold breeze actually was: bracing and fresh and full of winter's calm. It was so cold that it threatened to freeze the tears on her face and keep them there forever - but she knew better about that, too.