Years ago, one of my roommates created an illustration based upon E. E. Cummings' "in Just." I loved how she portrayed an old, gnarled satyr with an odd smile. You can see it on her art blog here entitled 'Pan.' Besides being enjoyable to look at, it got my imagination working. What would it be like to be in a world where everything is the same, but different. Magical in a way, but more illusive than reality. There have been thousands of movies and fiction pieces based upon such a thought. There's an entire genre devoted to it! Fantasy has never been my writing forte. I don't think I could bring that much invention to any idea. But I liked mixing a world adorned with baloonmen with the stark reality of our own. The piece that follows was a starting point of just such a twisted mixture in a novel I'm writing. Sadly, the novel has taken a more realistic and dramatic turn so this excerpt no longer worked and I had to cut it. I was playing with the idea of writing a different story based on this idea so I could still use it somewhere, but, for now, it has no home or destination. It's still in a rough-draft stage, and is by no means a complete story, but hopefully it makes enough sense to be interesting and enjoyable.
"Wake Lily, wake," she heard someone say. The voice sounded merry, if not tinged with an unnatural hint of worry. She caught a whiff of strong, sweet pipe tobacco.
"You are gone long. Wake now. I have been waiting for you." Lily opened her eyes to see a pair that almost mirrored her own; round, deep and a warm brown except for a hint of gold around the pupil. The gold reminded her more of John's golden-green eyes than her own. There was truth there; truth and understanding. In a voice of confidence, with which she surprised herself, she asked, "Who are you?"
"Oh you must know me ma'am, " he said, straightening up with pride. "You must know me. You have always known me. It is Bailinon Pan ma'am." With a mock authoritative tone he added, "'Makes the tongue twist', you say. You call me Pan." Lily couldn't help but laugh at this strange creature, uh, man's earnestness; almost like a child. It had been so long since she had laughed. What was he? Though he was standing beside her, and she only sitting, she almost matched him in height. He had a certain appeal, and yet, studying his face revealed something akin to a gnarled tree trunk. His skin seemed weathered and ancient like crumpled parchment, yet somehow new. Her surprise only deepened as she leaned back and her view took in his legs: covered in golden brown fur that matched his eyes, and ending in goat hooves. Strange as the image was it also seemed completely natural, as if everything fit perfectly in her mind. Everything was the way it was supposed to be. It was perfect. The feeling grew as she looked around her. The sun shone warmly, creating a glow among the trees that surrounded her. She was seated on a bed of lush, sweet grass, and she could smell flowers mingled with Pan's pipe smoke. She had never been anywhere like it, and yet she knew it. No, more than that. She could feel the place inside her. She could feel the pulse of life around her, as if it were her own heartbeat. The movement of a million leaves as the breeze kissed them. The vibration of a bee collecting nectar a few feet away from a blazon red...what was it called? At home she would have called it honeysuckle but that didn't seem to be right. Not here. After some thought she mumbled to herself, "A Gloryroot."
"Yes! A Gloryroot, that's the name," she said aloud triumphantly.
"Lily?" The suddenness of the voice made her jump. She had forgotten he was there. She turned to face Pan but saw John instead. "John? Where is he?" Confused she looked beyond her husband to see the familiar shadows of their bedroom.