Leigh Kimmel is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (In case of a tie, the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.) Without further ado, here’s the winning story:
by Leigh Kimmel
At the tender age of six I discovered Peter Pan. Captivated by the concept of a magical world one could reach from this one, I sought out more books like it: Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Narnia and many others, some so obscure only specialists recall them. Every time we’d move, I’d scour the library for one I hadn’t read.
And I sought a way there. Every closet and cupboard got checked for a hidden door. I’d stare into mirrors for hours, hoping they’d turn misty enough to pass through. When I talked about tornadoes, my teachers became concerned.
They didn’t understand my longing for a world where magic was real, where people could have adventures, where I could be someone significant instead of just another nobody. But they were in charge, so I learned to keep my head down and hide that longing.
And then I discovered this place, perhaps the ruins of a gazebo. A circle of concrete with stairways leading to a long-demolished floor, it looked like a teleporter from a science fiction movie.
Behind me the bar’s stereo was blaring Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” On impulse I climbed the nearest stairway and stared up at the sky until I felt silly.
As I stepped down, the air shimmered. For one glorious moment I saw a castle in the distance, a dragon flying above it. I ran back up, but already it was too late. The moment was gone, and would not return.