Its not the doing but the flying

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The summer hoildays looked likely to drag and Sam worried that her younger brother was getting into trouble. But then what could she anyone else do about it?

Submitted: June 26, 2008

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 26, 2008



Sam looked out of the window and sighed. She was bored and it was only the second week of the summer holidays. Mum was at work and her younger brother out and about with his mates. With nothing better to do, she grabbed her bag and key and went out to see what her friends were up to.

Outside the sun reflected on the bare concrete paths and walls. The only things living seemed to be the weeds that filled the abandoned flower beds. She wondered what it had been like when the flats were first built surely no one ever expected it to fall into such a state. A group of young lads swung around the corner of a block of flats, their bikes skidding into each other. Seeing Sam, they sped towards her circling around and around. Sam did her best to look thoroughly bored.

‘Go find someone else to pester Jack I’m in no mood to play your silly games.’

The fair haired lanky lad sniffed, ‘Who says we are playing, give us your money and you can go?’

‘If I had any, which I don’t, you would be the last person I would give it to. Mum gave you all she had this morning, so get out of my way.’

Jack slumped over his handlebars despondently, ‘Ozwin’s gang cornered us.’

Sam felt a mix of frustration and worry, ‘What were you doing around their patch, you’re lucky it’s only your money they took.’

Jack looked a little sheepish and his mate next to him shuffled. ‘They got Keg. We’ve got to rescue him.’

Sam looked in disbelief at her ten year old brother. God Sam, all of you, this isn’t a game, go get Keg and make sure you keep out of any more trouble. Digging into her purse, she pulled out a five pound note and gave it to Jack. That’s all you are getting.’

Sam whooped for joy and within seconds they had disappeared. Sam tried to put the worry of Jack out of her mind. Ozwin’s gang were only a year older that Sam’s. They were too young to do anything really silly. Children’s games she told herself, nothing more.

 As she walked across the park she watched the people coming and going. An old lady struggled to pull her shopping trolley while Mr Thomas, her neighbour, was tottering along with his miniature poodle in tow. There were harassed Mums with children and youths lounging around. What struck her more than anything was that no one seemed to have time for anyone else. Everyone seemed to be getting on with their lives in their own little world oblivious of anyone else.

At that moment several lads on bikes swooped down the path. Sam cursed as Ozwin and his friends crossed the path of the old lady. She grabbed her shopping trolley with both hands and looked confused as they rode their bikes as close as they could to her without hitting her.

None of my business thought Sam but without really knowing why she found herself running towards the boys.

‘Ozwin Frowler, leave her alone. You’ve done enough thieving for the day. Get going or I will call the police.’

Ozwin spun round and laughing lead his friends away. ‘Just having fun,’ he called, ‘No harm in that and I’m not the one thieving, ask your brother about that.’

Sam put her hand out to hold the old lady as she seemed in danger of collapsing to the ground. ‘They’ve gone now,’ she said reassuringly. ‘Would you like me to help you home?’

The old lady gripped the handle tightly as if in fear of Sam

Sam tried to keep a pleasant smile on her face. ’I’m sorry if they frightened you. My name is Sam and I just thought you might need some help. I promise I meant no harm.’

The old lady almost seemed to crumple as she relaxed. Her eyes were tearful. ‘I’m sorry my dear, forgive an old frightened lady her silly thoughts. I would be very grateful for your help,’ and letting go of her shopping trolley she wiped a tear from her wrinkled cheek.

Mrs Gary’s home turned out to be quite unexpected. Outside it had the unusual estate pale blue paint covered in graffiti but inside a patterned carpet led to a room full of model aeroplanes. Sam was so astonished that she almost missed the old man sitting by the far window carefully cutting a piece of balsawood.

‘George,’ Mrs Gray snapped, ‘we have a guest.’

 The old man reluctantly looked up from his work and nodded to Sara and went back to his wood.

Mrs Gary snorted. ‘That’s all you will get from him. Loves his planes more than me!’

‘Not true my love,’ he muttered without looking up, ‘Not true at all.’

Sam smiled as her eyes wandered around the room. She had no idea what made a good plane but they looked wonderful. Some were plain varnished wood others brightly painted.

‘Do they fly?’ she asked, genuinely interest to know.

Mr Gray put his work down and looked around at his planes, ‘some do, some don’t, some I’ve never tried but should and some that should I’ve tried and don’t. It’s the doing rather than they flying that’s important to me.’

Sam Laughed, ‘But they are wonderful Mr Gray.’

‘Oh don’t be telling him that, he already thinks too much of them.’ But as Mrs Gary spoke she looked proudly at her husband.

After a cup of tea served in a tiny tea cup with a saucer and a slice of home made sponge cake Sam made her goodbyes, ‘I must go and find what trouble my brother’s been getting into,’ she explained as she got up.

Mr Gary nodded, ‘Nothing to do I suppose, well if he wants to earn a few coppers, send him round. I could do with someone to buy me some more wood and my glue is running dry. I can’t get to the shop so easily anymore.’


‘It won’t hurt you Jack and he will give you something for your trouble.’

Jack pulled a face, ‘Alright I will go tomorrow, but that’s it.’

‘Good but you be polite and don’t ask for more than he gives you.’

Jack looked hurt, ‘What do you take me for Sam?’

Sam put her head back into her book and ignored the question. Having found her brother smashing up a bus shelter she had dragged him home and threatened him with telling his mother unless he helped Mr Gray but she doubted her wisdom in doing so.


Some days later she was putting the washing into the laundry bag when Jack came bouncing in. ‘Ill do that,’ he offered brightly, ‘for two pounds,’ he added with a grin. It was a long walk to the launderette so Sam gladly handed over the money. ‘You do it right mind you.’ she nagged.

‘I will,’ he promised, ‘Jimmy has gone to get his mothers, so we will get them done together.’

Sam frowned, ‘What are you lot up to?’ she asked suspiciously.

Jack shrugged his shoulders, ‘Nothing,’ he said airily and dashed out.

As the days passed Sam’s worries increased. They were up to something but she couldn’t figure out what and Jack just seemed to disappear each morning and appear again each evening.

A knock on the door pulled her from her thoughts. Outside one of the neighbourhood wardens stood waiting. 

‘Is Jack in?’ he asked.

Now what has he done she thought as she braced herself. ‘No I’m sorry he isn’t right now.’

‘Never mind, I just wanted to thank him and his friend for the work they did for me yesterday.’ and he handed Sam a ten pound note. ‘If they are interested I might be able to put some more work their way.’ he offered before saying his goodbyes and walking away.

Sam stood in the doorway as she watched him go feeling slightly stunned, when Ozwin skidded around the corner and come to a halt.

He looked slightly uneasy at seeing Sam. ‘Tell Jack we agree,’ he spat out all in a rush. ‘Last day of the holiday in the park at noon.’

Sam nodded and Ozwin ran off.


‘What are you up to?’ Sam demanded as she handed Jack the ten pound note.

Jack grinned. ‘It’s a surprise,’ he teased, ‘wait and see.’

Over the next few weeks the estate started to change, just in little ways but gradually people began to comment on the freshly dug flower beds and the lack of litter. Front doors shone with fresh paint and the lift suddenly seemed to work reliably and even smell fresh. Sam noticed an air of optimism on the estate and people started to greet her with a smile or a wave. Even the police and wardens seemed cheerful and relaxed.


Finally the last day of the holiday arrived and Jack was like a grasshopper bouncing around the house. ‘You have to come,’ he told his mother and Sam. ‘It’s going to be brilliant.’

‘What?’ asked Sam yet again.

‘Come and you will see,’ he sang as he filled his mouth with a spoonful of cereals.

Walking over to the park Sam sensed a buzz of excitement. People of all ages were heading in the same direction. Some were carrying picnic bags and some odd shaped packages. Jack had promised to meet them there as he had things to do. In all her life she hadn’t seen the park so busy. Large groups of people busied themselves with things she couldn’t quite see and then as she drew closer her heart jumped. Aeroplanes, they all had aeroplanes.

‘Over here,’ Jack cried from the far corner of the park and Sam hastened over. Jack and his friend held up their planes as stunned parents all gathered around. ‘I had no idea,’ announced one of the fathers. ‘We wondered what they were up to but never would I have guessed.’

‘Where?.. how?…’ stuttered another.

Jack puffed up his chest. ‘We made them. Mr Gray said he would only help us if we did jobs to pay for the wood. That’s what everyone’s been doing. Now we are going to fly them.’

From a tent in the centre of the park the estate wardens organised the afternoon activities while judges made notes on charts and watched as planes buzzed around the sky. Ozwin’s gang had painted their planes bright red while Jack and his friends were striped like multicoloured rainbows.

Sam sat in the sun and soaked in the atmosphere. ‘Who is this Mr Gray?’ one of the dads asked as he watched his sons plane soared in to the sky, ‘he should be congratulated for this.’

Sam turned round, ‘I’ve only met him once he is just an elderly old man. He lives with his wife at No 78.’

The man looked a little confused. ‘Can’t be 78,’ he said, ‘That flat has been empty since last winter. The council has yet to do anything about it.’

Sam frowned and called to Jack. ‘Is Mr Gray here?’

Jack turned around holding his plane up ready to fly. ‘No,’ he called, ‘he’s gone to help some others get going with their planes. He said he had done the doing and it’s for us to do the flying.’

© Copyright 2018 Rosie Cottier. All rights reserved.

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