Why won't mine fly?" Tynesha Green, 9, asks the skies over the Douglass Park ball field, already crowded with colorful kites.
Tynesha and her sister Kanisha, 8, have come with their mentors, Amanda Koellmer and Lauren Smith, volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters. They have one mission: to get airborne.
The first few kites are failures. Toy Story, Elmo and inflatable Winnie the Pooh all crash and burn. Tynesha jogs across the soggy field, the cuffs of her jeans muddy, her arm outstretched to release the string. Each time the kites return to earth, her spirits deflate a little more.
After a consultation with a local kite-flying expert, Tynesha revives her quest with another new kite. She names it "Tie-Dye" for its spiral of rainbow colors. "Tie-Dye, you're going to be the best flier ever," Tynesha says.
Tynesha runs across the outfield, dodging younger children and jumping over kite strings. From the outfield to the infield, from the infield to the basketball courts, Tynesha is determined to fly, but the winds are not cooperating.
"You guys hungry? Ready to leave?" Amanda asks. The girls are discouraged. They look at each other. "I want to try one more time," Tynesha says.
With the wind at her back she catches a breeze, and "Tie-Dye" lifts into the Saturday afternoon sky. Tynesha jumps. She screams. She's flying.
After a short minute, "Tie-Dye" comes back to earth, but the girls are energized by their victory. They get a second wind, a third, a fourth and then the inevitable. "Tie-Dye" is caught high in the branches of a tree. As they try to retrieve it, the string snaps and the colorful kite becomes impossible to reach.
Kanisha collects her own kite. Empty-handed, Tynesha follows Lauren and Amanda back to the parking lot, shedding tears for "Tie-Dye," now trapped in flight forever.