I have been known for a great many things; artist, sculptor, mathematician, astronomer, geologist and engineer. My skills are sought by dukes and monks. But, it’s not enough. Dear Lord, if you are listening, give me wings so I might fly.

I look through the diagrams of my flying machines. Feeling doubt, both in myself and in my works, I mutter, “Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake.” 

I’d been so sure they would work, yet they didn’t. I’d designed them meticulously, sketched them out in detail, I knew what materials should be used, from wooden frames to taffeta sails. Birds and bats can fly, I’ve emulated the design of  their wings on my flying machines. And yet, still they will not work. Sighing deeply, I walk outside to watch the setting sun.

It’s as I stand there, in the silent evening, that I see the starlings out of the corner of my eye. My focus is drawn to one as it ducks and dives, soaring through the twilit sky. Its movement is captivating, I can imagine how its tiny heart beats the blood through the veins to those muscles, powering every sweep of the wings. I gasp with realisation. Simplicity really is the ultimate sophistication.

Starlings flock in the Florentine evening, forming a great murmuration, their plumage shining with iridescence in a sky painted gold, crimson and ochre by the setting sun. The Arno runs like a river of blood towards Pisa.

I know now, in my heart, why my flying machines won’t work. The starlings have shown me. I go back indoors, pull a parchment towards me and write, ‘Nature is the source of all true knowledge. She has her own logic, her own laws, she has no effect without cause nor invention without necessity.’

I understand now why my flying machines don’t work. I continue, ‘Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because, in her inventions, nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous.’

One day I will fly.

=================

Editors Note: The italicized sections are actual quotes from this great man. We’ll let you figure out who he is!

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Voice-Team(@voice-team)
1 year ago

A compelling look inside the mind of a Renaissance genius. The story captures the unique perspective of an artist/scientist in its descriptions and dramatic tensions. Excellent story.

Emily O'Leary
Emily O'Leary(@emily-oleary)
1 year ago

I just absolutely love this. It’s written so well. The style you’ve written meshes perfectly with the quotes. I think you did him justice!

I’m off to go watch Ever After now, “then I shall have to make you wings!”… or maybe play The Ezio Collection. Hint hint* 😉

Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
1 year ago

I love how you’ve written your story around such memorable quotes Carrie. Brilliantly done. Worthy of a smile from the Mona Lisa.  ? 

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Orlando Sanchez
Orlando Sanchez(@orlando-sanchez)
1 year ago

I could feel his frustration and desire in equal measure. For such a great intellect I could imagine how difficult it must have been to not be able to solve this. This is an amazing story. I felt like I was there in his studio as he jotted down his notes and observations. Well done!

Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
1 year ago

Leonardo must really have felt that: the yearning to succeed, the fear of failure, the pride in his work, the joy in finding a solution to the problem. I felt the warm air of the Florentine landscape. I simply loved your story Carrie!

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Sandra James
Sandra James(@sandra-james)
1 year ago

Well done, Carrie. I feel as though I have been transported back in time and am actually there with the great man. I think you’ve captured what would very likely be his thoughts and actions perfectly 🙂

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
1 year ago

A beautiful portrait of this truly remarkable Renaissance man. I loved the fascinating quotations you used which were new to me.
I also love it that you, just like I did in my story, mentioned murmurations of starlings, here as an important inspiration for the master. Did he actually write about that or is this your theory?

Congratulations to a great story!

Fuji
Fuji(@fuji)
1 year ago

Carrie, you are a great writer who has inspired and entertained us many times, but this is one of your very best. We are there with Leonardo, frustrated visionary genius. His achievements are legendary – truly one of our greatest minds. And yet, this challenge was beyond him. I wonder what he would have thought of Orville and Wilbur, and especially of the huge, heavy giants that carry us through the skies now. I love the inner workings of his mind – thanks for giving us a window into the man, the time, the dream.

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Danielle Burke
Danielle Burke(@danielle-burke)
1 year ago

That beginning is so powerful, Carrie! We would think he had everything, but that dream still remained. That so often seems to be the case with those who are gifted.

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

Hi Carrie, I’d like to think that in the end we did fly, perhaps not as in nature.
But then I guess, Leonardo would have been first in the queue to buy a ticket on the first flight.

Last edited 1 year ago by Eric Radcliffe
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Brigitta Hegyi
Brigitta Hegyi(@brigitta-hegyi)
1 year ago

I really like your style, the words you choose. The quotations were a great choice. Well done!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago

You always really amaze me with your stories, Carrie. Congratulations. This is one of your best stories. I love it.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago
Reply to  Carrie OLeary

You’re welcome, Carrie. Congratulations on your win.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago
Reply to  Carrie OLeary

Cheers, Carrie.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
1 year ago

Congratulations Carrie, a unique and beautifully written story.

Emily O'Leary
Emily O'Leary(@emily-oleary)
1 year ago

I’m so glad this was a winner, such an amazing piece ? ?

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Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
1 year ago

congratulations Carrie! I am so pleased for you and our friend Leonardo! I so love your story!

Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
1 year ago

Congratulations on a well-deserved win, Carrie. This is a superb story, one of your best!

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Sandra James
Sandra James(@sandra-james)
1 year ago

Congratulations, Carrie! Today the great man salutes you 🙂 Well done!

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
1 year ago

Congratulations to your win, Carrie! Well deserved.

Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse(@marianna-pieterse)
1 year ago

Congratulations, Carrie! I could feel the frustration in the beginning of being unable to figure out how to fly, but then came that moment of enlightenment while watching the starlings. This is a beautiful story.

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Fuji
Fuji(@fuji)
6 months ago

It’s such a joy to read this excellent story again, Carrie. It is a shining example of flash fiction, and what a great writer can achieve in only 350 words. I’m so happy it was included in the eBook. You make us all proud to be in the club with you! As I said before, this is one of your very best stories.

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