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Fantasy Fiction Inspirational

The first time it happened, Camilla was completely caught off guard. She had been wandering in the rose garden at the Dallas arboretum, captivated by the fragrance and beauty of over 200 hybrid tea roses of 16 varieties, and when she got to a particularly delicate peach rose, she felt a tingle in her feet. She looked down to see that she was literally off the ground—by about five inches. It didn’t prevent her from walking gingerly on the air, and she had perfect balance despite the absence of earthy contact. Of course, she had to bend over a great deal more to smell the blossoms, but that seemed the only real difference. Once out of the range of the roses, her feet landed perfunctorily on the ground, and she continued on her way, walking in her usual fashion with her feet firmly on the ground. 

It happened again at her friend Jill’s home, when Camilla was visiting her in the picturesque hills of Bandera. At twilight, Jill had gone inside to bring Jasmine tea and strawberry cake from the kitchen out to the patio, and in her absence, Camilla approached the roses at the edge of her friend’s garden to quaff their scent and found herself hovering above the ground again. Embarrassed, lest her friend notice, she turned away from the garden until her feet found earth. 

At the peak of tulip season when she was walking in her own neighborhood amongst a profusion of the languid blooms (kingly purple, sunlight yellow, and tangerine orange), she suddenly felt herself rising and grabbed hold of a tree branch to favor gravity over flight. A young man walking his dog saw her for a brief second but shook his head and rubbed his eyes as if he had imagined seeing her hovering off the ground and continued on his way. The dog didn’t seem to notice anything out of the ordinary.  

Camilla had to make an effort to avoid people when walking—or avoid focusing her attention on flowering plants or other delights. But a natural curiosity and experimentation followed, and she found that the rare phenomenon became more commonplace the more she gave herself to admiring beauty. In public places, such as an art museum, if she started to feel the least delirium from observing works of art, she had to steady herself against a wall to prevent floating upward, which led the museum guards to eye her strangely, particularly if it happened in close proximity to a work of art they were protecting. 

 She no longer took the natural gravitational pull from the earth for granted and wondered if she were becoming somehow immune to ordinary rules of the universe, but in every other way, her life maintained its predictable attributes and rhythms. In her research, she found nothing to explain the phenomenon she experienced. 

On one special night, under the full moonlight and upon reading a poem she particularly relished, she allowed herself to float until she was actually flying—slowly—cautiously around the fig tree in her own garden. Her hands extended, she touched the leaves of the upper part of the tree gingerly, gently, as if caressing them. She came to accept her experiences as a gift but felt no compulsion to share them with anyone. 

It was only the thought of or connection to beauty—artistic or natural—that would engender the soaring, and when she worked feverishly on a project of depth and sensitivity, such as a poem or a painting, particularly when listening to music, she could not stay tethered to the earth at all, so she always worked alone and made sure her curtains were closed in her studio. Yet if the project were shallow or uninspiring, there was no way she could make herself float upwards, despite her concentration. Even a trickle of mundane thought kept her grounded. 

While many of her friends acquired worldly treasures—beautiful clothes, designer furnishings, embellishing gems and ornaments, she learned to be content with that which she found truly beautiful, and rarely were these costly. The sensation of floating along with the literal act of it intertwined with that which she held most dear. An alliterative line in prose or poetry, a pleasing gesture, an angelic voice, a film well edited, a life-giving sketch, architectural excellence—especially involving archways or water features, the juxtaposition of certain colors—these, along with sights and sounds of the natural world, produced a heightened emotion that triggered her flight. Hiding this abnormality became her central challenge, as she never wished to call attention to herself or her unique gift. Yet the “cure” was unthinkable—she could not abandon her love of and response to what she found beautiful. Thus, she lived alone and was guarded in her friendships. 

In the end, at 87, when her thin body gave way to another reality, she became enamored with the scintillating light that greeted her just after her breathing stopped. “Look at all those waiting for me,” she called aloud, even without a physical voice. There, all around her, beings she could perceive flew weightless in a huge field of colors beyond those she had known on earth to sounds that were sweeter than any earthly music. They beckoned for her to join them, and as she navigated her new terrain, there was no need to hide her talent or defy gravity; all the souls around her manifested this gift. 

Concurrently, a neighbor—a young woman named Lily on the cusp of deciding whether to pursue a career in nursing or animation, walked by Camilla’s house and became entranced by the sight of daylilies in her front garden, the petals drawing together at the end of day so that the blossoms closed just as the sun retreated from the sky. As their petals folded inward, Lily stepped into the garden and felt a keen urge to sketch them in order to capture their movement, but she was startled to see through the window the older woman’s body floating above her bed. It floated upward, disappearing through the ceiling and through the room on the second floor of her house, emerging again as it transcended the roof. It rose and rose until it bypassed the clouds, passing out of sight. 

As she looked at this mind-boggling scene, Lily felt herself levitating, lifting a few inches off the earth of the lovely flower bed where she had lingered. 

August 10, 2021 17:58

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3 comments

Andrea Magee
07:21 Aug 16, 2021

Wonderful story. You did a great job!

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Michelle Goering
20:13 Aug 15, 2021

I love the ending of this story, and all the images of beauty throughout. It makes me want to give myself over to beauty more often!

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17:41 Aug 14, 2021

Beautiful story.

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