After some reflection, I realized I was introduced to short stories back in high school. In one of my English classes, we read The Celestial Omnibus by E.M. Forster and it has always stuck with me. I have reread it over the years several times. There is always something new that pops out to me each time. It was my introduction to magical realism and short story done well.
If you would like to read it you can find a copy here.
The beginning paragraph has always been a section I reread even when I do not have time to read the whole story.
The boy who resided at Agathox Lodge, 28, Buckingham Park Road, Surbiton, had often been puzzled by the old sign-post that stood almost opposite. He asked his mother about it, and she replied that it was a joke, and not a very nice one, which had been made many years back by some naughty young men, and that the police ought to remove it. For there were two strange things about this sign-post: firstly, it pointed up a blank alley, and, secondly, it had painted on it in faded characters, the words, “To Heaven.”
I did not know what an omnibus was and remember being glad this description was written in the story:
It had two horses, whose sides were still smoking from their journey, and its two great lamps shone through the fog against the alley’s walls, changing their cobwebs and moss into tissues of fairyland. The driver was huddled up in a cape. He faced the blank wall, and how he had managed to drive in so neatly and so silently was one of the many things that the boy never discovered. Nor could he imagine how ever he would drive out.
It is a story full of adventure and imagination! I highly recommend it.