Icarus the Fallen

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

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A fictional retelling of Icarus, from his point of view.

I never knew what it was like to fly until I fell.

 

Life had always been complicated for me, twisting and turning like the treacherous halls of my father's labyrinth. My father, the famous Daedalus, majestic in his feats and a genius amongst men. 

How could a mere man create something like this? 

Such intricate detailing could only be designed by the gods. 

But he did it. He made not only a labyrinth, but the Labyrinth, and barely escaped from it himself. He was... Amazing. And me? I was ordinary. Far too tall for my age and far too plain. I was not strong like the other boys in Crete, muscles rippling as they fought desperately for the title of champion. I wasn’t fast like them, feet propelling forward and slapping the hard, dust-caked track surrounded by cheering onlookers. I wasn’t handsome in the way that they were; hardly anyone paid me attention. Perhaps most painful of all, I was not smart.

When people met me, they were disappointed. My father could not brag about me in the loud, barbaric way the neighbors boasted of their children. He could not say I was excelling in mechanics or the fastest of my age group. 

He only called me as "My beloved son, Icarus". 

My father was my only friend, for a few reasons. The most important being that we were not residents of Crete, rather prisoners. People were not supposed to be kind to us. I found this unfortunate as there were many other children I met in my youth that I liked, but were quickly told to stay away. 

Don't go near Icarus, dear. 

You know what'll happen if you play with Daedalus' boy.

My father worried over me. He knew I did not laugh as a young boy should, or smile nearly half as much as I was supposed to. He didn't understand; we were trapped here. How could I ever be happy when I'd never really lived?

To feel the sting of a salty ocean breeze prickling your cheeks, or the weak warmth that kisses your skin on a sunny winter day. To feel great shards of earth crushed against your feet, drops of blood spilling to meet Gaia, reaching the jagged peaks and touching the sky. The sky, with it's elusive cacophony of colors and lights, sometimes a jovial blue, and other times a melancholy yellow. Oh, to touch the clouds and feel them explode into sparkling drops of water that splatter across the pads of your fingertips and drip down your arms. To your left, you see a great eagle, stretching its magnificent wings across the air, feathers expanding in deep browns and hints of gold. To your right you witness Apollo on his golden chariot, dragging the sun to its temporary grave.

To live. I would gladly meet Hades to live for just one moment.

My father interrupted my laments one evening with a proposal.

"Shall we escape, Icarus?"

I stared at him, blinking away the images of fantasy from my eyelids. "Escape?"

His eyes sparkled, in that way they always did when he had an idea. "Yes."

I had many questions, but only one came out. "How?"

And he showed me the wings. Let me run my hands along the smooth leather of the harness and the delicate feathers attached carefully with wax. My freedom was there. My life was there, sitting on the table in a gracefully folded heap.

This was the best creation my father ever made.

"We're going to leave," he rambled, shivering with excitement that caused a tremor in his words. "We're going to fly away and never come back! Can't you just see it, Icarus?"

"I can," I whispered, purely dumbfounded at my luck. Surely this was a gift from the gods. What had I done to deserve such a chance? 

"We leave in two days."

Those 48 hours were the longest of my solemn 16 years. We packed a few things; I had little desire to bring much, so I was mostly designated with my father's. His papers, maps, plans... A small invention or two. Some water and some food.

That morning was clear, like a polished window of glass, shining reflections of the sun's cheery attitude. My soul had never shuddered like it did that day, my heart had never before known the speed it was thunking against my ribcage.

"Remember, Icarus. We must not fly too high or too low," my father reminded me seriously. Of course, I already knew this. It was his fourth time reiterating it, but I was not annoyed. How could I be, on a day like today?

"I know."

"Right, my boy," he nodded, graying brown hair splayed across his temple. "Let's go."

Leaping from the staggering cliffs of Crete, I had never experienced such vivid euphoria, such acute and intense joy. I had never felt my chest swell in excitement and my palms sweat with bright anticipation. I was flying.

I was lifted gently by the air, tumbling across currents and soaring like the birds. The ocean was deep and tumultuous as it churned beneath us, but I could not find a part of my mind that cared. The greatest ease I had ever known settled into my brain; nothing could ruin it. Nothing could take it from me.

Wrong. I had to land.

I had to return to my repetitive life of inadequacy and insignificance, back to being the unremarkable son of a genius. I loved my father, and I was never jealous of him, but I would also never compare. 

I needed more. I needed to be joyous for only a moment longer. The sun was calling to me; I could see its bright eyes and blinding smile. I supposed that if I touched the light for a moment, I would be happy. Then, I would land.

I willed my wings to climb. Go, go, go, don't ever stop. 

Don't stop until I am a constellation in the sky or a god upon Olympus. 

Please, don't stop.

My father yelled at me. I could not decipher his words, I only assumed they were animated and enthusiastic. He must be feeling the exuberance that I felt shooting down to my bones. He had never yelled at me before, so I put little thought into it.

At this point, my left sandal slid off my foot, the straps breaking from my ankle with a snap. The air tickled my toes, sending a thrill up my spine. Goosebumps popped up on my arms and legs. I was not cold, for the sun was too close for it to be cold.

It was so close. So bright. The heat pleasantly warmed my face and made me squint, and an involuntary shout bubbled from my lungs.

Keep going. Please keep going.

It was hot now, but the burning only delighted my senses and filled my empty stomach. I nearly choked on my heart beat. I extended my fingers and my muscles strained, reaching forward to the light. If I could just touch it for a second, no, a fraction of a second-

As suddenly as the beautifully crafted mechanical wings appeared before my eyes that fateful night, they fell apart. Wax burned trails of fire running down my back, melding into my olive skin. It seemed like a million feathers exploded at once, swirling around me in a whirlwind of white. The sun was shrinking in front of my eyes and someone screamed my name.

Icarus, the forgettable. No one save my father would speak those three syllables that were me ever again. Icarus, the lonely. I had lived my life with a sole companion, sworn to me by blood. Icarus, who only lived seconds before he died.

Icarus, the fallen.

I laughed, plummeting down to the high, white-capped waves spinning a whirlpool of certain death. I could not remember the last time I laughed, the last time a grin so easily crept onto my features.

I felt sorry for my father, and through all the manic laughter, a worm of regret inched its way into my mind. I had been his only companion, too. 

"I'm sorry." The words lept clumsily off of my lips, getting lost in the rushing wind. 

 

Gods, take me.

 


Submitted: December 10, 2021

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