An upward-floating feather

by Anna Hogarty

I am awake. And there she is again! So beautiful. Much more beautiful than I ever could have dreamt. Have I dreamt her? No, this is definitely not a dream. I’ve never felt like this before – so loose, so peaceful, so very, very free! Like floating through the sky on a soft bed of clouds.

Pretty little fairy. I drink her in through my eyes, lest she flit away once more. A tiny, feathery, silvery thing, draped head to toe in a shimmering of pearls. Whispery hair, ivory skin, dark and smokey almond eyes. And wings! Beautiful sheets of silk, green, like grass blowing to and fro in the garden in the wind…

I think of my garden at home. How I used to get up early all those years ago, fairy hunting book in hand, off outside to find one in the misty morning dew. The best time for spotting, so the book said. Always eluded a sighting – until today! I knew it! All my life, I just knew there was more to the world than there seemed.

My whole being tingles. I laugh, hearing not what I normally would, but a peal of tinkering bells that ring out, ever so strange, but pleasing nonetheless. I close my eyes, enveloped softly by the arms of the air. So this is what it feels like to fly…

But before my musings can take their full form, I make the mistake of looking down. I know, then, that I’m going to fall, and the more I think, the less I know how to do what had felt so natural just before. I don’t know how to fly!

I anticipate it all before it happens. A sudden drop – that feeling in a lift when you start to journey down. Then I’m falling helplessly through the air. It’s like those dreams, when your mind awakens, but you can’t for the life of you lift any bodily part, your arms and legs bound, your mouth taped shut. And as I fall, pictures slide in and out of my head, tiny little fragments of my life. My sister; the book I’m reading; the sea; my boyfriend’s smile. A new dress; dinner with friends; a bubble bath; my Dad and my Mum. Each one comes and goes, impossible to grasp, like water running through the cracks of my hands. What on earth is happening to me?

Mustering all of my strength, I force my questioning out – lips cracking together, a whispery W of a What? taking shape, breaking free…and I shoot through some invisible wall of pain. The very essence of me is caught up in a fire, and I can’t move, and I can’t breathe. And through the pain, something even worse tugs at the corners of my mind. Something so awful, I know I have to fight this, this dream, this plague – whatever on earth this is. I scrunch up with all my might, until a gust of air hurtles down my throat and I cough it all back up.

I really am awake now. Reality seeps in, drawing a line beneath what went before. But only the little things will come. Siren sounds and wide-mouthed sobs. Glimpses of colour through my aching, streaming eyes. Dull pressure on my hand, lying clamped within that of somebody else – a gripping, pleading, terrified vice. Anything bigger is an unfathomable blur. I’m here; but really, I’m not.

And then I’m drifting again, and I see that I was only passing though, and perhaps I’m just not meant to understand. “Nooooooooooo” I hear, as if through water, as the pain subsides and I soar once more. Floating free, like a feather, only upwards instead of down.

And I think the strangest thought: It’s as if I’ve just been born… An abstract thought that seems to come from nowhere at all. But that pummels me forwards, as I move towards the light. Shedding everything that perhaps I used to be, like a butterfly from the trappings of its cocoon.

Anna Hogarty lives, works and writes in London, and escapes around the world as often as she can.

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  1. #1 by Diana E Backhouse on September 14, 2011 - 9:51 am

    You make it so sound inviting, but who knows?

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