When Men Fly

"Would you ever kiss a guy?"

Mush stopped walking and looked at Skittery like he was crazy, which he was pretty sure he was. They were walking along the sand dunes at Kitty Hawk, asking each other questions on every subject, from the mundane "what did you have for breakfast" to the deeply personal "what made you run away to be a newsie" to the more exotic, such as the question Skittery had just asked.

"What?" he said. "No."

"What if it was a dare?"


"What if you were curious and no one else would ever know?"

"Still no."

"Not even if your life depended on it?"

"No! Skitts, I'll kiss another boy when men can fly."

"I thought the expression was 'when pigs fly'?"

"My money's on the pig."

"So you're saying, if men were suddenly able to fly, you'd kiss one?"

Mush shrugged. "I guess."

"Would you kiss me?"

"Sure, why not?"

"On the lips?"

"Well, yeah, isn't that what you meant?"

"For longer than three seconds?"

"Damn it, Skittery, yes! If guys suddenly started soaring across the sky, I'd kiss you like you were a girl!"

Skittery looked taken aback, and Mush's expression became horrified as he realized how loud he had yelled. Mush never yelled; he was a happy, kind-hearted person, and that he had lost his temper at all showed how pissed off he was. He mumbled an apology to Skittery and sort of shrank in on himself, embarrassed.

They started walking again, this time in silence. Neither was really sure what to say; Skittery's question, the fact that he had pushed so hard for an answer, and Mush's enraged outburst had suddenly made it very awkward for the two boys, who were usually so at ease with each other.

After a few more minutes of silent meandering, Mush decided to break the ice by starting up the questions again, though he made sure to avoid subjects that might be a little touchier. "So, where did you get your hat?"

"My brother. Gave it to me right before he disappeared. Found out later that he'd run off to join the army; got himself killed in the Span-Am."

So much for avoiding touchy subjects.

But if Skittery cared, he didn't show it. “So, where'd you get your hat?”

Mush was just about to answer when the two began to hear a whirring sound. They both turned around to find its source, and their mouths dropped open at what they saw.

It looked like a giant kite, all made of canvas and wood. It had four wings, two up top and two on the bottom, and there was a place in the middle of the contraption that looked big enough for someone to lay down in. In this space was what appeared to be a rudder and something that looked like a car engine but was obviously a lot lighter because it didn't stop the thing from flying.

It soared over past them, no more than fifteen feet above the ground, dipping and diving and swerving wildly in the sand-specced wind. But the most amazing thing was what Skittery and Mush had discovered as it passed them by.

There was a man piloting it.

Skittery looked over at Mush, a slight smirk on his lips. "Does that count?"

Mush merely rolled his eyes, grabbed Skittery's face, and kissed him.