Centered in the town square of Bluemont sat a beautiful oval fountain. The fountain contained a black abstract sculpture that appeared like giant bird wings layered over one another, a pool decorated with a white and red mosaic, and a circular marble wall. Looking at the shiny surface of the fountain, one hoped it could hold memories, for as each citizen passed through the town square, their gestures and demeanor reflected their inner light. Everyday the townsfolk sat around the fountain, watching water flow down each wing and tossing coins in the pool, hoping that their wishes would come true.
One day the morning sun shined on the fountain as a girl named Courtney chased her brother Eric around the town square. The children raced around laughing as their father talked with a friend. Courtney's smile was so wide that it appeared to cover her entire body. The father was used to hearing the children and didn't notice them until Eric screamed so loud that it pierced through his father's head like a lightning bolt. "Settle down you two," the father said. He took a step towards them, but that was as effective as waving away an oncoming train.
"Dad, we need money to throw in the fountain," Courtney said.
"Hold on," he said. He pretended to be irritated, but he was happy that a few pennies would settle the children down, and he was relieved to unload the copper-plated zinc duds on someone.
The children walked around the fountain looking for the perfect spot. Then they flipped pennies off the wings and into the water. "I wish I had a big flying lobster," Courtney said.
"I want a giant balloon with rhinos inside," Eric said giggling, as he was delighted with his own invention.
"You have to wish, dummy," she said.
"Okay, I wish for a giant balloon with rhinos inside," he said.
Courtney climbed onto the edge of the fountain and was about to wish again when a penny slipped out of her hand and fell in the pool. She tried grabbing the penny, but she couldn't reach it, so she leaned closer until she fell in the water. When she fell in a pair of wings shot out of her back. The wings were green with black and white stripes, and they expanded until they were half the size of her body. "Courtney!" her father shouted.
Everyone nearby was startled and stared at Courtney. Eric touched his wet sister, and immediately wings grew out of his back. Yellow feathers sprouted over both children, and everyone stepped away from them. Their father ran over and dried the children with his jacket, but the wings remained and more feathers covered them. "What did you do?" he asked in disbelief.
The children didn't respond. They looked around in shock, but then their wings began flapping and lifted them off the ground. They circled the fountain haphazardly before they gained control of their wings and flew over Main Street with a gleam in their eyes. The children could be seen from all over town, and as each citizen saw them and heard rumors of the incident, they raced to the town square.
The children of Bluemont were excited to see Courtney and Eric flying, so they rushed to touch water from the fountain. The adults tried to stop them, but everything was happening so fast that no one knew what to do. As the children touched the water, they grew wings and feathers covered them. Then they flew high in the sky, darting back and forth across the landscape. "Come down," the parents said.
"Come up here. It's wonderful," the children said.
The children looked so happy and free that some of the adults touched water from the fountain and started flying. Soon all of the children and all of the adults that were young at heart grew wings and were flying over Bluemont.
A salesman named Truman saw the flying people and went downtown with two of his friends from work. When they arrived they were awestruck watching the people fly and were delighted with the chaos in the streets. Truman was startled every time a flying person swooped overhead, and all of his memories faded away, but he didn't seem to care. The scene downtown was extraordinary, but after a few minutes he couldn't imagine the world not being like this.
"How did this happen?" his friends asked an elderly woman.
Truman didn't listen to her answer or hear anything else; he just started walking toward the fountain. "Are you going in?" one of his friends asked.
"I'm going to," the other friend interrupted. He then walked up and scooped a handful of water out of the fountain.
Truman watched as his friend grew wings and flew in the air. His other friend quickly touched water from the fountain and also started flying. "Come with us," they said. "You have to be up here."
After hesitating for a minute, Truman dipped his hand in the fountain. Nothing happened. He touched more water, but his body didn't change, so he took off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, took off his shoes and socks, and walked into the fountain. Still nothing happened. Truman climbed out of the fountain. Everyone stared at him. He stood in his wet clothes as other people splashed water on themselves and grew wings. Everyone kept staring at Truman. He did his best to avert their eyes, but he couldn't escape them. His friends felt sorry for him and said, "Let us fly you around, so you can dry off and enjoy the sites."
Truman didn't respond. He wished he could run far away and he stood nervously for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, it occured to him that he didn't want to fly after all. Then he slowly stripped naked and stood in the middle of Main Street. The whole town, including the flying people, stared at Truman's flabby body. Truman looked at his body and inspected some wrinkles, creases, and blemishes that he had never noticed before. He wiggled his fingers and toes, and then he shook all his limbs and paraded around town. Everyone watched as Truman showed off his fat body, and many people snickered, but his pride became contagious. Other adults who were upset with the flying people took off their clothes and strolled down Main Street. Soon all of the men and women on the ground danced around naked.
The flying people saw what was happening and some of them missed their old bodies. They flew down to the ground, but their wings would only let them stand still for a minute before forcing them back into the air. Some tried holding the flying people down, and parents tried cutting their children's wings off, but the wings could not be cut or burned, and for the flying people to remain grounded, they had to be tied to the earth. Truman grabbed his briefcase, waved to his friends, and walked home.
The next day the townsfolk roped off the fountain so no one could go near it. Nobody believed the citizens would adjust, but within a few months everyone was used to living in a town where some people could fly and others walked around naked.