long time no see… Well, I’ve been a bit lazy recently.
But here it is – part two of my story “The red balloon”. In case you haven’t been around when I started it, you’ll find part 1 here https://talesfromellaskitchen.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/the-red-balloon/
Here we go…
THE RED BALLOON. Part 2
At the same time, not far away, the skylight of a house opened. A hand appeared that placed a work bag on the roof. The roof was almost flat, which was why the man had chosen it to make his lunch break here on his tour round the neighbourhood.
The man had once been a computer specialist. He had had loads of appointments and one meeting after the other on a daily basis, where they were constantly talking about how the company could be run even more profitable, which people could be economized and how new customers would be recruited. Back then the man had had much more money than now, a 15-hour-day – and gastric ulcer. The evening he came home and found his wife and children packing, a lever switched in his head and he understood at last.
Previously he had been in charge of keeping computer networks going and removing jams in the data flow. What he was doing now was somewhat not unlike his work then. It is true that he was operating on a significantly smaller scale now, but in exchange he didn’t have the feeling anymore that his life was lived by someone else. In the past his work contributed to making our world even faster on the way dashing into its future and he watched people being overtaken by their lives instead of living them.
When he had finished cleaning a chimney now, he was aware of the fact that he had contributed to making people settle down in front of the fireplace to reach out their arms for the warmth of the fire, to read a book, to write a letter, to tickle the dog or to watch the flames while listening to their inner voice.
His former colleagues had only smiled injudiciously at his leaving. Whenever he met one of them on the street now, they nodded at each other silently and he was always the only one smiling. But when he was wearing his professional attire and they didn’t recognize his sooty face, he mostly saw them smiling and grabbing a button on their shirts or jackets with a twinkle, assuming it would bring them luck.
The man climbed out of the skylight. Leaning on a chimney with a content sigh he settled down on the rooftop. He closed his eyes and deeply breathed in and out a few times to fill his lungs with fresh air. For a moment he listened to the sounds coming through to him from the town humming beneath him. Then he heard that a bird must have settled down next to him and was pattering about on the rooftop. He opened his eyes and watched a sparrow hopping here and there several times and then it became airborne and flew off to a group of sparrows on another roof after chirping loudly to call the attention of its colleagues.
The man fetched a sandwich from his bag and poured coffee into a mug from a vacuum flask. While he was eating he let his eye wander into the distance and rest on the rooftops around him.
Suddenly he saw something red peering through a gap between two small chimneys on a house nearby. He carefully went up to it and saw that it was a balloon that was caught on the chimney, leaning into the wind. The man viewed it and smiled to himself. A moment later he reached into a pocket and produced a mobile phone wrapped up in a plastic envelope to protect it from dirt. He took it out and crouched beside the balloon so that it was about the level of his head. Then he held the telephone out in front of him like a camera and pressed a button. The resulting picture was sent to his wife together with a note (“Love you! A.”). She was at home sitting on the computer in their shared office, working on an article for her newspaper column. Just as he had wrapped the mobile phone in its envelope again and put it back to his pocket and wanted to unhitch the balloon from the chimney, he felt his telephone vibrate shortly and took it out once more. He opened the file that his wife had sent him for an answer. “We love you too!” was written under the picture she had sent him of her and their two children who had just come home from school.
The man was totally absorbed in the view of his three beautiful women when the wind tore the balloon loose from the chimney and carried it away.