Sunday, February 22, 2015

Flying Machine by Leonardo DiVinci
on oil pastel painting
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Alyssa the Witch and her Flying Machines

            Rumors spread over the land of Maerddth of a beautiful young witch named Alyssa who appears in town, choses a young man, makes love to him, and then, if he pleases her, gives him a flying machine.  The flying machines are incredible works of art.  Each is different in appearance and flight pattern.  The key to the flying machine, and instructions on how to locate and operate it are sent to each young man who qualifies about three months after the liaison.
            Some young men destroyed their flying machines in fiery crashes, but miraculously, none of them were killed.  Each somehow flew free and landed safely and walked away with barely a scratch. It was this astounding safety record that made the people of Maerddth call Alyssa a witch.  Everyone knew that Maerddth had had flying machines before, but the ability to make them had somehow been lost during the tribulations and hard times.  People wondered whether Alyssa stumbled on the technique in the massive archives in the old languages, which were forgotten by all but the most erudite scholars, or whether she had somehow reinvented not only the wheel, but also the secret of flight.  No one thought she had magicked the machines into existence until several of her young men survived crashes that should have turned them into roast meat.
            The men that Alyssa chose were all thin, ectomorphs, they used to call them in one of the old languages.  I know the term, because my job as a scribe requires me to learn some of the old languages.  And because I am an ectomorph, thin as a rail.  I’m guessing Alyssa chooses thin men because her flying machines are delicate and small and wouldn’t lift an endomorph.  Or, maybe, I hope, she just likes ectomorphs.  I’ve heard some women do.  Not many, but a few.
I want a flying machine.  But more than that, I want Alyssa.  I want to marry her.
            The truth is, I am painfully thin.  Most girls don’t see me.  They look past me as if I were a tree or a rock.  A sapling, or very thin rock.  But, I have had a lover, a girl named Sadie. I was too shy to ask a girl for her favors, but Sadie asked me.  I met her deep in the Archives.  She was beautiful.  She had long red hair and green eyes.  She was slender, but at the same time, soft and full.  I had no idea what to do, but she took me deep into the stacks and showed me.  She was gentle and sweet.  I fell in love with her, but after sex, I fell asleep and when I woke up, she was gone.
            After that, I began to read in the old languages on my own time.  I stayed after work and read about love, about sex, about how to please a woman.  About how to make her happy.  And I read about flying machines.  What they looked like, how they worked.  And I dreamed.  During quiet times at work, I fantasied about flying, and about making love to Alyssa the Witch. 
            Meanwhile, about every three months or so, a young man disappears into the forest and returns in a flying machine.  One of the devices is red and yellow, painfully bright to look at, and flies by twirling in such a way that Alfonso, the owner of the machine, becomes desperately dizzy.  The machine ejects him and he flies out on a rope and is pulled behind the erratically spinning machine in a terrifying arc toward the ground.  Somehow, he manages to pull himself back along the tether to the machine, take control of it at the last possible second and land safely.  When I see this plunge toward Maerddth, I reconsider my overwhelming desire for Alyssa.  One false move, and Alfonso is dead.

Alfonso and his Flying Machine
by me, Mary Stebbins Taitt

            Not all the machines are like that.  As I said, each is different.  One dark-haired young man has a device with rotary blades.  I think in the old languages, it was a called a “helicopter,” only this one is smaller than the ones in the old pictures appear to be.  Another young man, one with red hair like Sadie’s, only a little more orange, received a flying machine with wings like great cloth sails.  They are nearly transparent, pale green.
            At night, I dream about Alyssa.  I imagine she looks like Sadie, the redhead I met in the stacks at the archives.  I remember Sadie’s breasts, how soft they were, and full and round. Sadie and Alyssa merge, and I make love to them, to her, over and over.
In my dreams, I am a great lover.  Alyssa she loves my leanness and finds me appealing and kind and gentle and sweet.  I am kind, gentle and sweet, or can be.  I would be, with her.  In my dreams, I know just how to please her and make her happy.  But when I wake up, I can’t remember the secret—the one thing that will make me different from other young men, the one thing that will make her choose me and stay with me.
            Today, something happened that made me reconsider my dreams of marrying Alyssa the witch.  Sadie reappeared in the stacks at the archives.  She asked me shyly if I would like to make love to her.  Her red hair was longer than last time I saw her, and she seemed a little rounder than before, not fat, just a little rounder. 
            I made love to her in one of the cul de sacs deep in the stacks of The Archives, remembering my dreams, remembering all things I read about pleasing women.  When I was deep into loving her, it occurred to me that it was Sadie I loved.  All the time I’d been fantasizing about Alyssa, the person I’d been visualizing was Sadie.  Amazed, I blurted out, “Sadie, I love you.  Will you marry me?”
            She whispered back, “Birch, let me think about it.  I promise you an answer.  I will not forget you or your sweetness.”  She lay in my arms among the stacks until I fell asleep, and when I awoke, she was gone.
            It’s been six weeks, and I haven’t heard back from her.  I despair.
            Today at work in the archives, a boy brought me an envelope made of parchment and sealed with sealing wax into which a pine cone had been pressed to leave the imprint of its scales.  I wondered who was writing me, and then I remembered Sadie.  It had been more than three months since I asked her to marry me, and I had given up hope of receiving an answer.  Silence, I thought, was an obvious enough answer.  But maybe, just maybe, she’d finally written me.
            I tore open the envelope, and opened the sheet inside.  On one side was a finely detailed drawing of a bicycle with wings. And under that, a single word, yes, with lines and stars radiating out of it.  On the other side was a map with a symbol I recognized from the archives, a big red X which meant treasure. 
Flying Machine Bike for Birch
by Mary Stebbins Taitt
           I was confused.  The map was signed Alyssa.  I decided to investigate after work.  I packed my supper in a bag and hiked up the creek that led into the mountains. The map said to look for a deer trail that started near a big boulder that was shaped like a bear.  I found that rock readily and then looked for a rock shaped like a duck and took another trail.  That led to a clearing and there was the flying machine.  A bicycle with wings.  But no instructions.
            As I stood there examining the winged bike, trying to determine how to work it, something hit me in the back and knocked me to the ground.  I rolled over and looked and it was Sadie, laughing gaily.  She had jumped onto my shoulders from the branch of an over-hanging tree.
            “Sadie?” I asked.
            “Yes!” she said, “and yes!  And yes I will.”
            “Are you Alyssa?” I asked, still confused.
            “Sarah Alyssa Averill, at your service,” she said, kissing me.  “Also known as Sadie, your future wife, and mother of your future children and grandmother of your future grandchildren.  You may live with me, here in the mountains, and fly to work.”
            “Okay,” I said, “sounds good,” and I kissed her.
            “Let’s get a start on our first kid,” she said, when the kiss finally ended.  I happily agreed and got to work.  Or, got to play, to love, to joy.

Kiss, on oil pastels

Mary Stebbins Taitt
For Keith Taitt and Robert Verney
From a dream this morning, Sunday, February 22, 2015


John said...

What a lovely sweet story Mary, I really enjoyed it. It just drew me in as a good story should!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Thanks so much, John!!! You are so sweet!!!