Flight of Fancy

Flight of Fancy

A Story by bigfootprint
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I suddenly became obsessed with the idea of what it might be like if I could fly.

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Tales of unexplained sights and events like odd sights in the sky, strange nocturnal animal sounds, recounts of hauntings and such have always intrigued me.  Science can’t explain all such things, and legends really loosed the bonds of my imagination as a young boy.

I recall -- but can’t explain -- a strange incident occurring when I was 13 years old.  The clock said 1 a.m.  -- time to go home.  My cousin David and I had been playing stud poker for hours at his kitchen table. His father had showed us how to play earlier. We had long since finished off the leftover iced tea and brownies his sweet mother Maxie had left for us when they shut off the TV after the 10 p.m. news and retired for the night.  

No other boys our age lived nearby, and so David and I were thrown together a lot at my house or his, especially on Friday or Saturday nights. We spent so much time together that even our parents often intervened.   We lived about a half-mile apart, some three miles outside town. Constant companions, we would chatter constantly about our hikes into the woods or other treks, schemes, or playtime projects.

We were too young for far-ranging social activities but would find something to occupy our minds, like working jigsaw puzzles or hunting sparrows with our BB guns where they roosted on exposed rafters of the eaves. Sometimes we would crouch over a small burnt oil fire in a tin lid, safely away from the house, and laugh gleefully to see moths and other insects explode in the greasy above the hot oil. 

We would often lie on our backs in the grass, watching meteors and other lights coursing through the night sky. Once we startled a science teacher at school with our tale about twin comets. Their tails overlapped to form a clear lazy X between the stars.  The teacher estimated our sighting as near Rigel but couldn’t confirm it later or explain how “our comets” could go unnoticed by astronomers --  or form an X, lazy or otherwise, since comet tails share the same sunlight source.

A cool night breeze puffing through the window finally gave some relief from the residual heat of a sweltering fall day in Louisiana, where temperatures and humidity commonly hovered near 100. It was 1955. David was two years older. He had sustained a speech impediment from brain damage in infancy -- a live Peter Pan, without the magic. We got along well until as a teen-ager I began to outgrow the confining friendship and we drifted apart.

I recall the night so well because his father and my great uncle Trevor,   one of several family curmudgeons, had made such a big fuss over my getting a royal flush, which he appeared jealous of.  He had been a casino dealer on the Boardwalk in New Jersey years earlier and had never lost his fascination with cards.  He talked of how casinos pay large jackpots for rare hands like that.  Very competitive but of limited social aplomb, Uncle Trev thrilled to outdo us boys with his experiences, game skills, and pranks. We prattled on and on of what we could do with such a fortune.

Finally tired and bored, we waved goodnight, emoting about my royal flush. I saw the light fade in the kitchen window as I quietly closed the back door and crossed the lawn toward the road home. The night was clear and silvery against a harvest moon. I could see a hundred yards or so down the deserted road -- and that was OK with me. Scary stories are best enjoyed by an imaginative youth during hours of full sun.

The uneasiness of being alone began to build. With the only sounds those of crickets and frogs -- and my shoes raking on the gravel of the parish road, I picked up my pace a little and soon reached the point where the road began to slope down toward a wooden bridge about 50 yards ahead.  The only light in sight was the glow of the full moon.

The bridge crossed snake-infested Ash Slough, where flooding rains often inundated the road with several feet of water.  But tonight only smudges of bushes, grass, and saw briars lined the road, except where the narrow water-filled ditch drained the swampy slough beneath the bridge. The now stagnant flow dumped into an adjoining pond enlarged with a mule-drawn slip as a water source for livestock. Ripples of jumping minnows fracture the reflection of the golden moon. I tried not to think of the stories of trolls and such as I glanced again at the eerie shadows along the bushy embankments.

No moccasins had emerged to snooze in the warmth of the gravel road; and so I hurried along, ears perked for any sound.  The jarring bellow of a large bullfrog raised the hackles on my neck. Elsewhere along either side of the road, the dewdrops sparkled on the grass tall quivering in the gentle zephyrs.  I felt really alone.

Nearing the start of the bridge, I suddenly became obsessed with the idea of what it might be like if I could fly.  I quickly began to concentrate really hard, lifting my arms and making my whole body rigid as I hurried on. Maybe it was the lateness of the hour after a wearisome day that numbed my consciousness with wide-eyed sleep, altering my state of mind.  

It was then that I felt myself lift off the ground as lightly as a gas-filled balloon and soar, the cool night air tickling my face.  I consciously refused to feel frightened. Closing my eyes, I could feel myself floating. Then, staring at the road 50 feet below, I quickly learned to adjust my speed and altitude by sheer concentration.  The thrilling sensation made me laugh out loud.

A young boy has a vivid imagination, no one would argue. But the strange part of this story is that my memory of the adventure paused right there.  The next memory was of descending gently onto the road surface near home, running to a stop, and feeling regret that my strange experience had ended.  It seemed odd that I had traversed the distance in a very short time. I bounded inside. Snores told me everyone was sleeping soundly, and I knew better than to wake anyone to share my excitement, although our mother always knew when we boys returned home. It seemed like very few minutes had elapsed since the bridge, not nearly time enough to walk the nearly half-mile home.

Whether I experienced sleep-walking or self-hypnosis, I don’t know.  Despite vivid memories of every other detail of that night, I have always been baffled by the intense realism of the incident, even with parts blanked out. I have since had dreams in which I flew, but I always waked in the morning fully aware that it as the dream. This event had seemed different.

The following morning over breakfast, other family members failed to share my enthusiasm. My father guffawed. My mother just moaned “Lawd, Lawd,” her standby expression for moments of awe and disbelief. My two brothers just laughed disparagingly, calling it my tall-tale flight experience. I knew I would regret hearing their embellishments of my story at every family gathering for years to come.

© 2019 bigfootprint


Author's Note

bigfootprint
It is fun to relive moments of one's childhood -- lessons, mysteries, family, and friendships.

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This was a very interesting, well told story. I must admit, there are events in my life I recall, but the details seem so blurred and out of the ordinary, that I'm not sure if they really happened at all.
A great story, enjoyed it very much.

Posted 1 Month Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

bigfootprint

1 Month Ago

Thanks for your kind comments, M.E. I have come to believe that it is OK to bridge the facts with fa.. read more

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Added on September 14, 2019
Last Updated on September 14, 2019
Tags: Autobiography, family legend, imagination