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Icarus

by jonathan rigby 

 a story for the amusement and edification of our friends and customers

 

 

            You have heard my tale before, perhaps, but only from my father’s point of view. Like all of his perceptions the story is accurate enough, but not complete, and though the hour is too late to stay the pen of history I shall tell the rest of the tale all the same.

            My father’s name was Daedalus, and his reports of our endeavors together have become famous, but my part of the story has not been told until now, for none know of it in its entirety but myself alone, for I am Icarus, son of Daedalus.

            The well worn narrative of our employment with king Minos is true, we traveled to his island and built for him a labyrinthine prison for his own monstrous son, the minotaur, and he would feed sacrifices from the population of Athens to the beast. This seemed unjust to me, but my father bade me be silent, for Minos was a powerful king.

            At last a hero came and vanquished the monster, taking the kings daughter with him, and leaving my father and I to bear the wrath of Minos for having aided his escape.

            Minos was furious, imprisoning us in a high tower, where we designed and built wings of feather and wax, hoping to escape by air. All the time my father chided me for convincing him to aid the hero, and getting us into all of this. I would say he never should have contracted with Minos, and we would sullenly return to our construction.

            I know now that, as we labored, very different thoughts moved through our minds. My father thought to return to Greece, and hide from Minos wherever he could, and so his wings took a shape well designed to that end. I, however, could not bear that the hideous power of Minos should be suffered to exist, and so devised a plan to undo him. My wings were wrought to ascend the vault of heaven, and petition the highest power I could conceive of to look upon Minos and judge him.

            As the wings neared completion my father became more and more afraid, but I became more resolved and certain. His wings were perfectly made, devastatingly accurate and, due to his nervousness, very safe. In fact they sacrificed much in the way of speed and maneuverability for stability and were brilliantly sturdy. My wings were crafted to fly as high and fast as possible, with no safeguards at all to weigh them down. They could turn swiftly and maneuver spectacularly, but it would be all too easy to make a mistake and fall, and so I reasoned that I should then make no mistakes.

            By this time I had resolved that I should fly to the sun, clearly a powerful god, and say to him that he should look upon king Minos and judge him. Surely the sun is just, I thought, and will kill this tyrant. But what did I know of the sun? A mortal cannot even look upon it, and so how shall we know its nature? In those days I thought that because I knew some things, I must know others as well, but that was long ago.

            We finished our wings the same day, and each of us seemed incredulous as to the airworthiness of the other’s design, but when we stepped from the balcony the wind carried us both, and we flew easily away from the tower, and soon soared across the ocean. Wicked Minos and his island were left behind, and we laughed at the cleverness of our escape through the wind. My father set out straight away for Greece, and I began to ascend higher.

            He called to me, to come back home with him to Greece, but I called to him to fly higher and beg vengeance on Minos. Soon it was plain that his wings could take him nowhere but Greece, and mine were built only for the ascent into heaven, and so with a longing glance we parted ways.

            I have heard from his account that he did return home, and there dwelt happily, building a temple to Apollo and hanging his wings in it, but I went another way.

            Into the high ether I plummeted upwards, carving spiral arcs through clouds as I rose. My wings were a marvel, and very soon the expanse of the blue ocean spread larger below me, dotted with small islands. Through shifting veils of cloud I beheld the mighty sun, but as a large and looming cloud drifted closer all the sky and sea became the color of lead.

            I beat my wings once in a mighty exertion upwards, and pierced through the grey cloud to emerge into a tranquil white landscape of cloud filled with flocks of green birds. Here I pondered Minos, wondering what lay behind his actions and how his thinking might be. I saw that he was like any other man, even myself, and I wondered what I would have done in his place.

            Then I again beat my great wings and ascended through the next bank of mist to emerge into a cloudscape chased in red from the slanting light. Here I knew that if I were Minos and had done as he had done, I would have done a wicked thing, and my wrath against Minos was rekindled.

            I flexed the wings again, rising higher into a realm of sky rendered a majestic purple, and the clouds were chased in glittering tinsel. Here I considered Minos from a broader vantage, and as though I were a king, I judged his kingliness, and found it lacking.

            I beat my wings again and flew up into a place where all colors were refracted, and it seemed one thing was part of another. From this vantage the world below was a kaleidoscope of color, and I saw the vast web of doings that Minos and myself were snared in.

            Again I beat my wings and lifted through shifting clouds to emerge into a skyspace dominated by the full moon, until then invisible, hung in the sky like a jewel, and I considered that I must judge myself as well as I judged Minos. Upon consideration I perceived that I was not my body, and not my mind, nor anything that I could discern at all. I could not find the boundaries of myself, and yet I continued to be, and so did Minos.

            When next I beat my wings I emerged at last into the presence of the burning sun, his realm all illumined and bright. Here many of the obscure sayings that I had heard in Greece began to make sense, for from this lofty vantage it was plain that if I had any body at all that it was the connected cosmos, for there is only one thing, objects as we discern them being only connected parts of the singular, vast universe. I saw that I was the sun, the moon, and the earth, and as the beingness of all things I looked upon Minos, for I was him as well.

             As Minos I saw my vast kingdom as for the first time, and remembered my beingness as the sun. My mind was cured of the the sickness of tyranny, and I understood that all things are one. As the kingdom of crete I ruled myself, and became sovereign.

            As the sky and the sea I watched the graceful fall of the body of  Icarus, turned to fire when it beheld the sun, as it  plunged into the sea. In Greece they would mourn him, never knowing what he gained for the price he paid, but in Crete he was celebrated, for Minos sent a flotilla of ships decked in royal garlands to fetch the body of Icarus from the sea, and he was buried among the kings of Crete amidst great ceremony.

             

             

           

             

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