I Can Fly
By Gary Sironen
© Copyright 2019
SYNOPSIS: In this monologue, a student named Teri realizes they are “different” only when Mother begins to cover it up and a friend advises Teri to be careful in sharing it. Teri learns that others have secrets, as well, but secrets may become harmful and dangerous.
SETTING: A bare stage.
CAST: Terry or Teri – Can be male, female, or non-binary, late Junior High or early High School age. Dress can be typical school day attire.
LENGTH: 9 to 10 minutes.
PLAY HISTORY: I CAN FLY was performed as a video play for the Columbus Black Theatre
Festival by Mine 4 God Productions in 2020, and was first performed live in 2021 at the Sauk Theatre’s “Sauk Shorts” in Jonesville, MI. It will be published by Applause Books in May 2022 as part of a collection of short plays entitled GO PLAY OUTSIDE.
Gary Sironen is a playwright, composer, lyricist, arranger, director and musician. He has written or collaborated on several short plays, full-length plays and musicals. He has been director and/or music director for a number of school, church, and community theatre musicals; he has composed numerous worship songs and choral anthems, and he has performed with several professional bands and worked as a public school band & choir director and church music director. Gary is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the Grand Rapids Federation of Musicians, Local 56 of the American Federation of Musicians.
Stage is bare, dark except for light CENTER. A student – Terry or Teri – junior high or early high school age, enters and faces the audience.
My name is Teri. I can fly.
Pauses for a few moments trying to decide what to say next.
It isn’t something I tell many people about. It’s a secret.
I don’t remember when I first knew I could fly. I remember I could walk and run; then
one day I could jump. And then one day I jumped a little farther, and a little farther, and
then one day when I jumped… I just kept going.
That first time I just kept going was pretty scary, ‘cause I didn’t know how to stop. I just
gradually started slowing down and getting closer to the ground. I tripped when my foot
hit the ground, and I scraped my knee. Then I did it a few more times and got better at
The first person I told was my Mom, but not right away. Mom and Dad used to get so
upset because I would jump up into a tree in our backyard, but I was too afraid to jump
back down. It just looked too far. So my Dad would have to get a ladder and climb up and get me and make me stay in my room until I promised to never do it again. But I did do it again.
They never saw how I got up there, and they never asked; they just assumed I climbed
up, I guess. Dad even cut off some lower branches, but I still got up there. One day while
I was in my sad place in my room – that was a corner I sat in when they were mad at me- Mom came in to talk with me. She acted kind of funny, like she didn’t know what to say. She was quiet for a while before she started to talk.
She asked me, “Teri, do you climb up in that tree?” Not “how do you get up in the tree” or “why do you go up in that tree”; she just said “do you climb?”.
I didn’t think about that, until later. Anyway, I said, “No.” I was waiting for the next question, but there wasn’t one. She just said, “Don’t go up in that tree again. It’s dangerous; you could fall out and get seriously hurt or die. Do you understand?” I said, “Yes.” And that was all.
I didn’t think much about it then, because I just assumed everyone could do it. I had
cousins who would come to visit, and we would race or chase each other around, but they never jumped and kept going, so I didn’t either. I didn’t think about why; it was like, we never danced when we were running, and we never jumped, so…
Another day when I was in my sad spot for jumping, Mom came into my room again and
asked, “How do you get up in that tree?”
I said, “I just jump and keep going ‘till I get to where I want.”
She didn’t ask me what I meant. She never did. She just said, “I don’t want you jumping
like that anymore. It isn’t safe. Do you understand?”
I said, “Yes, Mom.” I didn’t understand. And I didn’t stop.
When I started school, us kids would play and run around in the schoolyard, and nobody
jumped like me, so I didn’t, either. But one day, my friend Johnny and I were playing
with a Frisbee, and it got stuck in a tree branch above our heads where we couldn’t reach. So, I just jumped up and got it. No one else was around or looking, I guess, but Johnny’s eyes got really big and he said, “How did you do that?”
I said, “I just jumped.”
He just looked at me for a minute, then we went back to playing.
Another time, Johnny and I were playing on the swing set, just the two of us after school
with no one else around. I got tired, so I got off my swing. Johnny kept swinging and he
was swinging real high and suddenly flew right out of the swing. He was thrown straight
out at first, but then he started falling, so I jumped up and put my arms around him. And
then we came back down and landed on our feet. (chuckles) He looked pretty scared; he
tilted his head and looked at me and said, “Teri, can you fly?”
I said, “Fly?”
Johnny said, “Yeah. You flew up and caught me and brought us both down safe. How did you do that?”
I said, “I can’t fly, I just jumped. Anybody can do that.”
And he said, “No. Nobody can do what you just did. You can fly.”
The next day, Johnny told a couple of other kids that I could fly. They just laughed and
started teasing him. Then, they came over to me and asked me if I could fly. I didn’t know what to say. I was confused, because I never thought of it as flying. They were making fun of Johnny, and I felt bad for him, but I didn’t want them making fun of me. I thought everybody could jump like that, even though I never actually saw anyone do it. I just knew I didn’t want them teasing me, so I said, “No, I can’t fly.” And, just to make sure they left me alone, I said, “Johnny must be crazy.”
I didn’t really mean it. I just wanted those kids to leave me alone. But they started calling
him “Crazy Johnny” and teasing him all of the time, and I was too scared and ashamed to
defend him, and Johnny got mad and said it was my fault – and then we weren’t friends
And I didn’t jump anymore, at least not when anyone was looking. And I learned how to
climb a tree and get back down, like the other kids.
Mom never asked me again about jumping, and so it just became something I kept to
myself and did when I was sure no one else was around. Until I was in junior high.
Takes a big breath
My cousin, Elizabeth, died. We were about the same age. She lived downtown in an
Lizzie and some friends were playing up on top of the apartment building one night, and
Lizzie fell off, down five stories, and died. It was the first time someone I knew well,
someone my age, had died. Everyone in our family was heartbroken; her parents were in
shock. I was just kind of – numb.
We went to the funeral, and the kids who were up on the roof with her that night were
there, looking sad and sitting alone. Then we went to Lizzie’s parents house to eat and
visit and comfort them. Everyone brought some food; it was like a party, only sad.
Lizzie’s friends were there, too, sitting off in a corner by themselves.
Some of the adults would look over at them once in awhile, then go back to talking softly with each other.
I asked Mom what was going on, why the kids were alone like that with the adults
whispering. She said sometimes adults say mean things. Most of Lizzie’s friends were
older than her. The adults thought the kids were drinking or doing drugs that night.
Mom said the kids denied that; they said everyone was just playing around, and then
Lizzie said she could fly. Nobody believed her, and they started teasing her and told her
to prove it. They said Lizzie just said, “OK”, and then she ran and jumped off the edge of
the building and fell straight down to the sidewalk.
TERI briefly looks down, wipes their eyes with a
hand, then their nose, sniffs, then continues.
A couple of kids claimed that Lizzie did say OK, but then when she got over to the ledge,
she stopped to look across, and then down, like she was trying to do calculations or
something. And then some of them ran over to stop her, and she accidentally got pushed. And then she didn’t fly – she just fell.
I asked Mom what she thought was the truth. She said sometimes there is more than one truth, because there are some things you just can’t tell everyone.
I said, “Do you mean secrets?” She said yes, and she told me that everyone has secrets:
some people live an entire lifetime with secrets; some people eventually tell a few trusted friends because some secrets are too powerful to live alone with; and some people are so haunted by their secrets that it kills them.
I asked Mom if all secrets are bad. She said that most secrets seem bad to the one that
holds them, and sometimes it’s holding on to secrets that causes the most harm. She said that sometimes the best thing is to find someone you trust completely with your life, and share that secret with them. If they love you, they will love you in spite of it, or because of it.
I asked her what if it makes them afraid of you and they leave you because of the secret.
She said, “It’s a chance you take, and it means their friendship may not have been as
strong as you thought it was.
But no matter what happens, when you tell someone a secret, the secret loses some its
power over you.”
I’ve never forgotten that. Secrets are hard.
I have shared my secret with a few people I trust the most. Some have not understood it
or can’t accept it, and they have left me. Some have not understood, but they have
accepted it and loved me for sharing it. And some have shared a secret with me. But most of all, that secret is no longer a threat to me; it no longer has power over me. It’s no longer something I must keep hidden at all costs, causing me to suffer in unimaginable ways.
Flying is something I can live with now, something I can enjoy, something I can share
with someone who knows me and understands me, someone who can appreciate it as a
gift, instead of something shameful. Sometimes it starts to get control over me again; but I know how to make it lose it’s power.
And that‘s why I‘m sharing my secret with you.
(END here for audio play)
TERI, still standing,
brings feet together,
raises arms up high,
looks at the audience and smiles,
then looks up,
bends at the knees, ready to jump.
About the Author
Gary Sironen is a playwright, composer, lyricist, arranger, director and musician. He has written or collaborated on several short plays, full-length plays and musicals. He has been director and/or music director for a number of school, church, and community theatre musicals, composed numerous worship songs and choral anthems, and he has performed with several professional bands and worked as a public school band & choir director and church music director. Gary is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the Grand Rapids Federation of Musicians, Local 56 of the American Federation of Musicians.
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