Mae Clair: When the Sky Had a Tail

Last week I read a great blog post by Stephanie Ingram called Aliens Have Landed.  She relayed how as children, she and her brother searched for aliens in the fields behind her house. Imaginative fun!

Stephanie pointed out that much of what we experience as kids makes its way into our writing as adults. Some of it is conscious, some not so conscious. I love the frivolity of childhood and the stories I used to invent with friends. I was always dreaming up something, or imagining a secretive place tucked under the horizon of a far-off land.

If you scroll down the sidebar of my blog you’ll see “12 Weird Facts About Me.”  Note number three. Minus any eye-rolling, please! 😉  The story is this:

It’s a warm summer night, almost dark, and I’m sitting on the front porch with my father. He didn’t realize The Spooky House was two doors down, (for some unfathomable reason he thought it was a simple office building), but I was conscious of it even then. He and I often sat together at dusk, especially if there was a thunderstorm brewing.

He must have worked a long shift, because he drifted off to sleep. Shortly afterward, a large green object trolled across the sky. I remember it as a semi-cloud, the color of algae-enriched seawater. Light spilled from the bottom, drenching the street, front lawn, and half of the porch in an eerie green glow. The light swept over me but didn’t touch my father who remained seated in the shadows.

I don’t know why I didn’t wake him. When you’re a kid you accept the unusual. The ‘cloud’ moved past, and soon people were walking up the street, jabbering excitedly. My dad woke up and I followed him down to the sidewalk where a woman stopped to chat. She’d come from the below The Spooky House, and told my father “the sky looked like it had a tail.” I remember those words clearly.

Had I seen a UFO?

Maybe not of the alien variety but, even now, with the hindsight of an adult, I can’t say what it was.

Hot air balloon?  Weather anomaly?

Given the woman confirmed something strange had happened that night, it will live forever as a goose-bump ‘what-if’ memory in my mind. At some point in the future that strange dirigible will most certainly worm its way into a story.

Are there childhood events, mysterious or common, you see yourself using in fiction?  Maybe you already have. Do tell! Inquiring minds (er…that would be me), want to know! 😉