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Ever have an experience that felt surreal, as though you’d been suddenly transported into the twilight zone, where time seemed to warp, perhaps slowing down or speeding up? Tell us all about it. If you haven’t had an experience in real life that you can draw from, write a fictional account of a surreal experience.

If feel that I have had brief experiences like the ones you mention, but am unable to recall any with enough clarity to write about. Here’s a story instead; hope it fits the bill.

Anna sat in her office trying to think of a clever invitation design for the annual Charities Ball in at the end of March. Carnevale was chosen as the theme for this year’s occasion, a dinner and dance. Her mind was going over the variety of possibilities. She decided to put on some Puccini music as inspiration.

She sat listening and thinking, then thought she saw something move in her office. Vaguely, some shapes were swirling around, like figures in a fog. The fog lifted and she could see they were dancing. They wore beautiful gowns in satins and silks, the skirts swung as they turned. The figures seemed to be semi-transparent, but enough detail was visible so that she could see their intricately coiffed hair, and the tiaras and jewels they wore. But their faces seemed to be extremely made up, and many were holding masks to their faces as they smiled at the men they were dancing with. The masks were held up with kind of wand, or stem, and they, too, were gaily decorated.

She closed her eyes, listening to the music, and imagining herself in the scene, dressed as elegantly as the ladies, dancing at a grand ball in an Italian palazzo.

She opened her eyes and the room was empty, but an image remained in her head. The lovely masks work by the ladies at their Carnavale Ball.

She had her idea for a simple, elegant invitation and she turned back to her computer and began creating.