Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fiction: Helium Balloon

The boy isn't quite at the age of articulating his thoughts. But it's so easy for him to fall in love with a helium balloon. How strange and upside down and wonderful to feel weight and pull from above his chubby and dimpled hands. The boy holds the string and feels a gravity like force pull up as he lifts up to give the string slack and then pulls down fast, creating a THUMP sound from the rubber balloon knot. It's a lazy little balloon. Not very full. But full enough to float.

Thump, thump, thump. The boy walks aimlessly repeating the gesture, looking up at the orange ball above him on a string, squinting from the sunlight streaming through a canopy of broad green oak leaves. A cicada whirs from somewhere up there on the high summer day.

Thump thump thump. He tugs and tugs. He jumps and feels the pull of the balloon on his hand. He pulls the balloon hard and it bobs on down to his eye level but only for a moment and then rises again, making a nodding motion as it goes. The very little boy is dizzy now, looking up and walking in tight circles on uneven, scrubby grass. He trips on a breaching oak root and lets go of the balloon. He feels the string slip up his arm.

The boy stands up and sees the string just above his head and he feels for a moment that he can just reach up and grab the string of the lazy little balloon as it rises. He reaches up, but it's risen by then. Still out of reach. But not too far. Still within a tippie toe reach. His fingers graze the slowly rising string. But the little balloon rises and rises, dangling its string tail teasingly as it ascends.

The balloon is at the tree tops, then above, then a dot in the sky.

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