The short story, my absolute favorite, originally published in Mademoiselle magazine in December 1956, tells the largely autobiographical story of a young boy named Buddy and his elderly cousin and best friend, Sook, as they prepare for what will be a meager Christmas. The high point of the day is the gift of kites they give each other, which they later go outside and fly. It’s their last Christmas together, as Buddy is soon sent off to military school and Sook slips into senility. The final lines of the story always makes me cry. Buddy learns his cousin has passed away while at school. “And when that happens, I know it. A message saying so merely confirms a piece of news some secret vein had already received, severing me from an irreplaceable part of myself, letting it loose like a kite string. That is why, walking across a school campus on this particular December morning, I keep searching the sky. As if I expected to see, rather like hearts, a lost pair of kites hurrying towards heaven.” God, that man could write. Talking, however, was a while other ball game. It’s jarring at first to hear the words come out of his mouth. Give it time though, and his effeminate lisp actually helps you to understand the bond between the odd, lonely little boy and his child-like and eccentric cousin.
Listen to parts 1 & 2 now (via Sissy Dude)