Ascendant by Bernard Heise

On a whim, while taking a much deserved break from her efforts to hone her latest contribution to the metatextual emancipation of the downtrodden and unwashed, Samantha turned away from the laptop, fixed her eyes on the faded Magritte reproduction across the room, and made a concentrated effort to believe in the absence of gravity. To her delight, she discovered that this indeed lightened her step. She tried again and found herself hovering slightly as she walked, long enough to wriggle her painted toes with glee. Soon, she took to the air with such ease that she began having trouble keeping her feet on the ground. Her heart nearly burst with self-satisfaction and vindication, but then her enthusiasm suddenly waned, for the effect was, in fact, deeply disconcerting. Previously routine tasks like preparing her morning toast and coffee and performing ablutions now required extreme mental focus. It was difficult to keep her fingers on the keyboard. She was no longer able to concentrate when conducting seminars and the students started complaining about her teaching. Then late one night, she awoke in horror to find herself pinned to the ceiling above her bed, shivering with cold, her nightgown hanging limply from her body. At that point, she realized she would no longer be able to leave the house for fear of getting tangled in power lines or floating away into space. Worse yet, she understood that this latest development was probably all the university needed in order to revoke her tenure.

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Ascendant by Bernard Heise

  1. All you need to learn to fly is forget how to fall… Nice way to portray the down side of falling up. Nice work!

  2. Randal Houle

    Nice twist. Fun approach ot the theme. Nicely done.

  3. Catherine Davis

    Terrific: this belief in absence of gravity lightening her step. And onward into a less harsh-than-Kafka reality. To laugh at the end, unexpected treat.

  4. Be careful what you wish for, I guess?
    That first sentence is outstanding. I could identify with it entirely too much right up to the attempt to disbelieve gravity.

  5. guy

    Nice satirical portrait.

    Yesterday i made the mistake of reading an egregiously stupid comment in the Chronicle of Higher Ed about how the American professoriate is a meritocracy. I flipped the on switch on my flamethrower, but didn’t pull the trigger. Thank you for saving me the trouble. Do gasbags leave ashes?

  6. Absolutely perfect in every way; the story, the writing, just perfect for me.

  7. Len

    you used a lot of words i had to look up. distinctive voice you used writing this.

  8. I adore this, the take on the theme and the possibilities… can we actually fly? Oh can we? And then the tenure ending, so, so familiar…plodding on, as humanoids…I am moved.

  9. Kim Hutchinson

    What a great story in a week for great stories! Pointedly funny and wonderful work.

  10. Funny and benignly sarcastic, like an ode to our conflicted relationship with gravity….last line punches it all up. Engaging, fun and edged with the right dose of whimsy.

  11. Started out thinking it was Sci-fi. Then that twist at the end made me laugh out loud. Not a professor, but could easily picture myself stuck on the ceiling.

  12. Ha! Great twist to the ending (as a member of the mediocre professiorate, I can relate). Totally unique take on the theme. Peace…

  13. Total whimsy here, just loved her floating and worrying…
    nice story, unusual

  14. Pingback: Week #34 – Floating away | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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