Short Story: "Mariah of the Sky"

(Photo: Free images)

Mariah watched herself rise, spin and flutter over the sidewalks next to the college, zipping past bewildered professors and staring students, weightless in a blue full-skirted cocktail gown.

She skimmed between spreading trees and soared over the construction cones blocking off the school road's half-rebuilt culverts. At no other time did she feel so alive and free.

Flying always felt this way. Mariah had honed her control over spells of unexpected weightlessness very gradually. The spells always came at a time of great need, during stressful encounters, when the troubles of life were mounting.

The first time it happened, her feet had floated suddenly away from the ground, but she was unable to keep them from rising above her head. Before long, she was spinning end over end, higher and higher above the city, unable to steer and quite incapable of returning to the ground, until by chance a hailstorm came, weighing down her clothes and dragging her body back to Earth, miles from where she had risen. That time, thankfully, the only witnesses were strangers, and she never saw them again.

Since then, it had been much more difficult to keep her ability a secret from friends and acquaintances. Still, somehow, she managed.

Today, the spell came on during a party at the local college with her colleagues. She noticed someone staring at her from across the room. Her co-worker Maxine had brought a date — was his name Ted? — and he looked rather like he wanted to strike up a conversation. Just when he started threading his way through the crowd toward her corner, she felt that sudden familiar lightness.

Once, in the past, Mariah had experimented with hiding in the ladies' room when the lightness set in, to see if it would pass, but it hadn't. She'd gotten herself pinned against the ceiling for an hour, until she finally wiggled a heating duct screen loose and crawled up to the roof to fly off into the distance.

Tonight, she wouldn't try to fight it. She quickly grabbed her coat and purse and ducked out a back door just in time, as gravity lost its hold and the ground began to melt away beneath her.

(Photo: Free images)
Where would she go tonight? The college was in the countryside, surrounded by deserted roads and a sprinkling of homes here and there, but mostly just open fields and clumps of forest groves.

For an hour or so, Mariah glided over streams and rocky fence rows, watching the sunset from the clouds, looking for a smooth, dry place to land. She knew how this would go. She would take off her heels and tuck them in her — thankfully quite large — handbag, then she would walk in stocking feet through muddy fields for a couple of hours beneath the stars, back to her car, feeling the strangeness of gravity's pull, the force she had been freed from so briefly.

Maxine and Ted would think she had gone home early. Mariah wouldn't have to answer any questions.

And then she would wake up.

Read more of my short stories here.

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