by heather oxley

Icarus Rising

They say that when Icarus was born, he ran before he could walk. Pudgy legs and a bright grin, he hopped and skipped, always going too far, too fast for fear of stopping. He ran and ran and ran, always too afraid to be left behind, too afraid to fall, to slow down.

They say that when Icarus was a young boy, he fell in love with the color blue. The blue of his mother’s eyes, the blue in the wildflowers outside his house, the blue of wonderful, expensive clothes, the untouched dye that stained his fingers for consequence of his curiosity. But most of all, he fell in love with the blue of the sky. The pure blue stretching everywhere and just out of reach. He would climb the trees, the sturdy and withered branches, until he was perched on the very top, his hand outstretched. A flash of earth brown against a blue he almost thought he could touch.

They say that one day, Icarus fell from that tree. Arms outstretched like wings, too shocked, too afraid, too in awe to think of screaming. When he hit the ground, the hand that had stretched for the blue blue blue sky laid awkwardly at his side. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t feel anything except of the warmth of the sun, soft and calming and burning as a caress. He could only stare up at the blue of the sky, and the brilliant gold of the sun.

They say that after that day, Icarus wanted too much. He stayed, locked away in his room, studying and crafting and testing. A young man with a desperate need to fly, to run, to touch that alluring sky. He was ambitious; an open flame of want. Every day, he would lounge outside until his skin burnt, until his arm grew tired of reaching for the sky, until he began to learn to fly before he learned how to walk.

They say that Icarus fell in love with the sun. For how could he love anything else? How could he dream of loving something as tame, as soft and mundane as humans? No touch, neither feminine nor masculine, could compare to that sky. To the passionate caress of the sun. To the winds that coaxed his arms up, up, up, until he felt nothing but heat and weightlessness.

They say that Icarus had to be descended from a god, for who else could fly like the birds up above, as free and sure? For who could love the sun and shun the earth? His wings were magnificent; glistening and attractive, fit for the boy who loved with all of his being. The sun’s warmth seemed to reach for him that day; a promise for the love that Icarus already possessed. A love that, unbeknownst to those on the ground, was pure and curious and longing and needing. For how could Apollo resist the man who lived so viciously that he learned to run before he could walk?

They say that for a shining moment, Icarus was with his beloved. Finally within reach, Apollo cradled him close; the man who burned as he did. The two, together, blazed. Icarus lost in his blue sky and Apollo shining gold, gold, brilliant gold.

They say that Icarus was up there for years.

They say that it was only a moment.

They say that Icarus spent his entire life in his lover’s arms, bending the laws of time because how could such simple rules apply to them? Icarus and his burning, blinding, intense love, and Apollo with the human who was too much like a star to let go of.

They say that Icarus was never meant to fly that high. Even with a bird’s wings, even with a bright grin and a love as big as the sky. Icarus was, fatally, human. And Apollo could not hold him close forever. So, as inevitable as running and climbing so foolishly, so ambitiously, Icarus fell. 

They say that when Icarus left Apollo, the sun died. Black grief consumed the world as the lovers parted. But just as it seemed simply a moment while Icarus and Apollo were together, the sun’s lifetime of grief lasted only minutes for those below.

They say that Icarus was a shooting star against the dark sky. A smudge of charred black against a sun coming to terms with its loss. That by the time the sky was a brilliant, shining, Icarus blue, the young man with a bird’s wings was broken on the ground with a smile on his face.

They say that Apollo still grieves. Stills hides and dies for a lifetime to remember the love he had. For even though gods are loathe to lose their hearts to humans, they say that Icarus wasn’t fully human. Who could love that viciously? Live that foolishly?

They say to beware of Icarus’ fate. To clip your wings and stay on the ground, away from the blue and gold, away from tempting warmth and passion for fear of being consumed.

They forget that even Icarus was afraid of falling.

They forget, time and time again, that Icarus did the impossible. He fell in love with a god and a god fell in love with him.

They say that Icarus is a cautionary tale. 

They are wrong.



heather oxley is a second year student at Fullerton College. A hopeful foreign language major, she spends her days in the library desperately catching up on work. After classes though, she reads, writes, or games and forgets about the cup of tea she made earlier.

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