"...The boy began to delight in his daring flight, and abandoning his guide, drawn by desire for the heavens, soared higher. His nearness to the devouring sun softened the fragrant wax that held the wings: and the wax melted: he flailed with bare arms, but losing his oar-like wings, could not ride the air. Even as his mouth was crying his father’s name, it vanished into the dark blue sea, the Icarian Sea, called after him...”
David shook his head and slowly walked to the nearest window. He was in no mood for his father´s stories today. And of course, he knew the story of Icaros, he had heard it a hundred times before, yet he could never find much sense in it. Why would Icaros forget the only rule that Daedalos had told him? Naturally, David´s father loved the story. He actually loved almost everything that was European, from Greek myths to English meals. David did not share much of this obsession.
So instead of listening to his father reciting Ovidius, he stood there by the window, a fourteen-year-old boy, both old and young enough to consider himself a man. He was enjoying the warm breeze on his face, varied noises of London and, strangely enough, an unpleasant smell. He could neither see the cars that caused the noise, nor could he notice a small restaurant at the other side of the street, where the smell came from. As a matter of fact, David could not see anything – he was blind.
"Don´t stay there too long,” his father suddenly said, "you could attract some unwanted attention.”
"I thought that all attention I could attract is unwanted,” replied David. He knew his father would consider this impolite but he was in no mood to be submissive.
"What?” the father seemed a little shocked. "I am only trying to protect you, you know? I´m trying to protect the entire family, because, in case you didn´t notice, the government isn´t really friendly to people like us...”
"So why do we have to live here? Why do we live here, where we have to hide, I can´t go to school, you must have an illicit job and people hate us!”
"It´s not my fault.” said the father, although David was sure that it was completely his fault. "But be patient. This hatred against immigrants can´t last forever. I know that the last few years were pretty rough, but I’m sure that things are going to change.”
"This hatred against immigrants lasts for years now. And it’s not going to end any time soon. Why can’t we go home?”
"Europe is your home now, son. You better get used to it. It’s not like you have anywhere else to be used to. You’ve lived here for half of your life, so stop acting like we dragged you here”
David ran out of arguments.
"I’m going out, to the park. I need some fresh air”
"Do you want me to come with you?”
"Try to guess,” laughed David.
"Ok, but be careful. You know... a car could run you over or something.”
"I’m not stupid. And as you said a few minutes ago – I’ve lived here for half of my life.”
Few minutes later, David was enjoying the summer sun, sitting on a bench at one of London´s smaller parks. He liked sitting there, with many smells and little noises. He had been there so often he could remember almost all paths of the park. Suddenly, an idea sprang up his mind. He folded the white walking stick and rose from the bench, slowly walking, trying to keep the same direction. It was difficult and, inevitably, he would feel grass below his shoes. He turned rapidly back to the path and... crashed into an obstacle, a soft one.
"Oh, I´m terribly sorry, I didn´t see you!” said a girl´s voice. David almost laughed. Yeah, she didn´t see him.
"I guess it´s my fault,” he admitted and, guiltily, unfolded the walking stick. It had an effect similar to a staff of a wizard – people immediately changed their behaviour when they noticed it. It has always seemed ironic to David, that so many people associated blindness with a white walking stick – like a blind man would notice if his stick would have a different colour.
"No, I should have been paying attention,” the girl replied. "I´m sorry, I was looking for four-leaf clovers.”
"Four-leaf clovers?” David repeated. He obviously knew what they were, but he could never imagine that some people would spend their time actually looking for them.
"Yeah, four-leaf clovers,” said the girl. Then she didn´t say anything for a while, probably looking at David. "I guess you´ve never found one, have you?”
"Well... no, I haven´t.”
"That´s sad,” she said. David was quite used to people pitying him, but that was certainly the first time someone would think the largest problem with being blind was the fact that you could never find a four-leaf clover. "I´m Chloe. I live nearby, and I am probably about your age... don´t know if you can tell. But my voice is rather squeaky, I´m older than I sound like!”
From that day, they would regularly meet at the park, with usually Chloe talking most of the time, while David walked by her and listened. She told him she wanted to be an artist and spent an awful lot of time describing her pictures. That was something astonishing to David. So far, all people he had met tried to avoid using words referring to colours, or anything that could "insult” him. Chloe did not care. She had her own world inside her head that was too big for anyone to understand, whether they were blind or not. She also talked about her parents a lot and the problems she had with them. Each day, David liked her more and more.
"I have something for you,” Chloe said when they met a few weeks later. "I found it yesterday. I wanted to go to your place and give it to you straight away, but I don´t know where you live.”
It was, of course, a four-leaf clover.
"Thanks, it´s beautiful,” he said and he meant it. One doesn´t have to see to appreciate beauty.
"That was a question, didn´t you notice? Where do you live? I hardly know anything about you or your family. You don´t have to be so discrete, you can trust me.”
And there it was. David knew this moment would come sooner or later. But he knew there was no way he could tell her. If anyone would find out the truth about them, the government would surely banish them immediately. David couldn´t afford such a risk, no-one from their family could.
"Er... somewhere up that road” he waved. But he was lying and he was pretty sure she could tell.
"Ok. I get it. Well, never mind, I am sorry to bother you. I have to go now.” The disappointment in her voice was crystal clear.
David´s brain worked furiously. He didn´t want to lose her, yet not talking about their life was the most important rule his family had kept. Would he endanger his entire family? Would he be like Icaros, falling to the sea because of the desperate lust to touch the sun?
No, he would not. It was a terrible thing to realize, but some things just don´t change. One of them was the fact that he was blind. Another was the fact that he could never find his own four-leaf clover. And, he must never tell anyone the truth about their family.
Unless touching the sun was the one thing worth dying for.
"Chloe!” he shouted, "Come back!”
"What? You´ve realized you can trust me after all?”
He took a deep breath. Icaros was soon going to drown. But before that, he would be the only person to have ever touched the sun.
"My family and I are illegal immigrants,” he gasped out, more loudly than he had intended. "We live two streets away, in an attic of a guy my dad works for. If anyone finds out, the government will either kick us out or even imprison us.”
He was still holding the clover tight in his fist. Chloe slowly walked towards him and took the other hand.
"Tell me more,” she said, with a smile that David could not see, but she was sure he could feel it. "Tell me more.”