A long time ago, when the world was just a bit younger than it is now, there lived a pair of squirrels. Rhea, the older of the two, was a grey, fluffy, flying squirrel. Rocky, the younger, was also grey, but more in species than in color, as his fur, unlike Rhea’s, had a black streak down his back. Unlike Rhea, Rocky could not glide, let alone fly.
Although there was an age difference and because they were squirrels, they loved to play in the forest. Scurrying and bounding from tree to tree, hoping on limbs and branches brachiating all day long. Their favorite game was Tag. They played this most of the time, whirl around the pines and firs until they were tired.
Not nearly as fast but because Rhea was a flying squirrel, she was able to escape Rocky’s paw with a leap from a bough as she glided towards the earth smoothly, until it came time to grab for the tree or ground. Her landings were quick and deliberate, for if they were not, she would slip, fall, and hurt herself. The speed of her landing was the only thing that kept Rocky from catching her. As she descended, he would approach her destination almost as fast as her descent.
Rocky was jealous of always being It when they played tag. Not that he couldn’t catch Rhea with his speed, but because she usually escaped his grasp at the last moment, coasting away to the bottom of their playground.
One day, to make things fair, Rocky suggested they go to the clearing where there were no trees Rhea could climb to leap away, gliding out of the grasp of Rocky. She agreed but reminded him the clearing ended in a cliff and they should beware for the cliff went down a long way.
Off they ventured, past the trees; past the grasslands; past the river, until they came to the drylands where there was nothing to hold onto, other than each other.
They took a moment to catch their breath, inhaled, and they were off. Running in circles because they had no way to run up. Grey and black streaks were all that could be seen. Because Rhea was the target, she was in the lead, but Rocky was close behind. She looked back to see how close he was, continuing to tear across the gravel.
As her lead was lessening, Rocky had one goal in mind, and that was to catch her. He stretched his little squirrel paw, extending his fingers as far as they could go. His proximity was so close he could feel the heat radiating from Rhea because she was running with all her power.
As they ran, Rhea was looking forward, and Rocky was concentrating on her tail as it was almost in his grasp. The cliff was fast approaching, but neither of them saw it. Rhea ran faster and faster as Rocky unsuccessfully tried to reach her. And then, they were on the cliff’s edge.
Rhea ran over the edge just as a gust of wind blew upward. She extended her arms as her gliding membrane lifted her towards the sky. At that same moment, because he was only concentrating on her tail and not seeing where he was going, Rocky also ran over the cliff but caught Rhea as she flew past him. As the draft lifted Rhea and she glided backward, Rocky flew with her. This moment of flight, though brief, made Rocky that much more envious. He experienced what it was to fly, and that was all he could think of as they went back to the woods.
Days past and they continued to play. Rhea was only It for a brief time as she caught Rocky off guard and swooped down tagging him. This was possible because Rocky was obsessing about the short flight he took and wanted to do so again. He suggested they go back to the clearing, as even there Rhea was able to stay away from him and, therefore, the game was mostly fair.
Traveling the same path as last time, they play the same game as they previously did, and again, they were carried away by a gale, and Rocky grabbed Rhea’s tail with her dragging him to safety. And once more, Rocky knew what it was to take to the air. Upon doing this again, he decided he could fly too. He told Rhea that he could fly as well. There was no reason he could not. He could run faster than her and therefore, with a big enough gust, which seems to always happen at the cliff, he could glide like her. To which, Rhea told him he could not. He didn’t have wings. He had it in mind that he was going to regardless of what Rhea said.
Rocky ran. Ran as fast as he could. He ran directly at the cliff as Rhea could only stand there and watch aghast. Even if she could run to catch him, he would be at the end of the cliff before she would make it there, and he would fall.
As he got closer, he lost his nerve, but he had picked up too much speed and by the time he changed his mind, it was too late. He slid over the edge. His little body wriggled a little to right himself, and then he started floating up. As he got back over the top of the cliff, he saw Rhea and exclaimed that he could fly. He had told her he could, and he did, saying that he could do anything he put his mind to. But as the words of his pushed past his lips, the current stopped, and Rocky plummeted to the ground. Rhea could only hear a splat and knew… sometimes the truth hurts.