A close-up of irridescent green, blue, and teal bird feathers.

an original retelling

Daedalus was a brilliant inventor, and he had made a career, even a legend of himself for being able to create the seemingly impossible. So when he decided to escape from his tower prison by flying over the ocean like a bird, his son, Icarus, had no doubt he would do it.

It took him only a little while, and Daedalus did the thing that no one else had ever been able to do. He created two sets of wings that for all intents and purposes looked like they could have come from a very large bird, with a wingspan twice his and his son's own heights. Daedalus was ready to fly.

At any other time in his life, that would be it; he would take off, no matter how dangerous the risk, with the untested creation, and somehow beat odds impossible for anyone else. But Daedalus was older now, and he'd had his share of trouble. His proclivity for trouble had landed him in this prison, after all. And because he now had a son, he could no longer do anything without first weighing the consequences. And he worried, now...something he had hardly ever done for himself in his own youth and prime.

When the wings were finished, Daedalus showed them to his son and gave him careful instruction.

"When we set out over the ocean, you must take care not to fly too high, because if you do, the heat of the son will melt the wax holding these wings together, and you will fall into the sea, and I won't be able to save you. But you also must not fly too low, because the ocean spray will soak the feathers, and drag you down into its depths. Be sure to follow me and do what I do, until we safely reach the shore."

Icarus agreed; his father knew everything. So they attached the wings to themselves one day and lept out of the high tower window, catching the wind and sailing high over the endless ocean.

At first, Icarus did exactly as his father instructed. But as they continued to travel for what seemed hours, he naturally was a fast learner, and he began to fly playfully, imitating the sea birds shrieking in the sky. He flew faster than his father, who was flying more carefully. Every now and then, he'd hear his father call out to him to remind him to take care not to fly too high or too low.

He stayed well away from the ocean spray. But he could not resist flying higher and higher to see how far he could go, and the enormous sun was so very far away; surely there was more than enough height for him to go before there was danger from it. And he probably would have been right, if it were not for the fact that, as he saw the tiny silhouettes of birds flying across the great bright sun over the ocean, he found himself hypnotized by its beauty and enormity. He couldn't help it.

Watching the sun and the birds flying seemingly so close to it, he naturally rose higher and higher. And he began to entertain what he knew was impossible; he began to think about what it would be like to touch the sun! He heard his father's voice calling behind him, so far away, and could hear the terror in it. But he was mesmerized by the sun, and sure enough, as his father had said, the wax holding his wings together began to melt it its heat, and still he rose higher, still he kept his eyes on the horizon, toward the great sun.

And as his wings came apart, and he plunged to his death in the sea, his father watching, helpless to be able to save him, could it be that he knew he was about to die for flying too close to the sun? And could it be that he simply decided, it was worth it?