THE RED BALLOON (part 4)

by me.
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For a little while it went on flying through white smoke that made all the sounds appear like wrapped up in cotton wool or muffled it like snow recently fallen from the sky. Very soon the smoke had an end and the grey gave way to a blue spreading as far as the sky. Down below on the ground there was none of this wideness, for when the people in this part of town were looking out of the window they saw nothing but the windows of other houses. If they bent down there were only streets and cars. If they bent their heads up they could see a piece of sky – but it was merely a piece. Some were less lucky and only saw a never-ending row of house fronts. So they stopped looking out of the windows. Many who worked in this part of town only saw bright white neon lights instead of daylight. The residential and administrative buildings were alternating with petrol stations with car wash, schools, churches and shopping centres. In one of them a little girl was sitting on a bar stool eating pasta. Because of the heat there hadn’t been much business in the shopping centre. Most of the people were probably staying at some swimming pool and the few guests that had come in to them, wanted to escape the heat for a moment with a cooled drink. Only a bit later would there be more business when the heat would have given way to a bearable warmth. Then the people would do their shopping until closing time and would tell the work day good-bye over a glass of wine and a piece of pizza. The other children of her class were at the outdoor pool or on holiday with their families. The little girl had propped up her head into her left hand and with the right one she shoved one fork with noodles after the other into her mouth without raising her head, while she let her legs slightly dangle about in the rhythm of her chewing. When she had finished, she carefully let her body glide from the bar stool, took the empty plate and put it into the dishwasher. When she heard her father call her name she turned round to him and saw him point his head towards one of the tables. She nodded and went over to clear away the empty dishes.

Her father was just forwarding the bill to one of the guests and telling him the amount. While waiting for the money he watched his daughter piling up plates and cutlery on the next table with her small hands and a highly concentrated look on her face. His beautiful Angelina! She had the same black hair and the same dark eyes like her mother and it gave him a little sting being reminded of her like now. A year before they had been sitting by her sickbed and since the funeral the eyes of his eight year old child had the grief-stricken look of an adult that had had a glimpse at Pandora’s Box. He forced himself to shake off that image and to concentrate on the man before him again.
“Did you enjoy it?” asked Angelina. The two addressed women, who had been absorbed in a chat about the past weekend briefly raised their heads and gave her an astonished look because they hadn’t seen the girl come to their table. “Oh, yeah, thanks. It was great” they said. When Angelina cautiously carried plates and cutlery to the dishwasher she could hear one of the women say, “And then he…” and the next moment both of them vigorously burst out laughing. The girl startled in alarm and almost dropped the cutlery on the floor. She barely managed to put the pile of plates onto the counter without dropping everything. While she was loading the dishwasher, adding rinsing agent and starting the cleansing process, her father was collecting the money from the table with the two women. Shortly after that they stood up and left the shop. Now that nobody left except her father, she asked him if she was allowed to go outside. He nodded and asked her to take care and not to go too far away.

Angelina loved watching the people from up here and seeing them walking in and out of the shops. She leaned over the railing and tried to imagine what the people had bought according to the size of the plastic and paper bags they were carrying. A little boy at the hand of his mother looked up to her, waved at her and pointed at something above her.
She waved back and lifted her head towards the direction the boy had indicated, and she saw a red balloon slowly sailing across the yard. She followed it with her eyes and gradually the adult expression on her face faded and she became once again what she was: a little girl. She smiled and started laughing. First it was only a tiny coughing, but then it grew into a laugh that only children have. It rolled and chortled – like blebs bubbling up from the deep ocean into the light. She was still laughing when the balloon had already disappeared out of sight.

The sun meanwhile cast long shadows between the trees and houses. The people in town were washing the dishes, coming home from work and opening their mail. The children put on their inline skates and played soccer on the streets.Old ladies were walking their dogs.

In a calm side street that was lined by trees on both sides a man in loud red working clothes was cleaning the pavement. He could still feel the heat of the day emanating from the asphalt. He lowered his broom and leaned on one of the fences that were there to protect the villas behind them from inquisitive glances. The man took off his chunky working-gloves and dropped them on the ground. Then he reached for his little drinking bottle that he had attached to his belt. When he threw back his head and drank he saw little red flakes above him sailing down like rose petals. He put down the drinking bottle and with a frown he looked up once more. Autumn was no doubt early this year, he thought while he was picking one of the flakes that had landed on his arm. “Strange!” he said to himself and asked himself where the balloon had suddenly appeared out of the blue and how it had burst. He hadn’t heard a bang. “Hm!” he made, shaking his head. Then he shrug his shoulders and went about collecting his working tools.

…………THE END…………..

The red balloon

Fair readers, I bid you good morrow!

As I spent a bit of a sleep deprived morning due to some teens having a loud conversation below my window and because of switching back to wintertime (three cheers for this gift from heaven! -not really). Since I’ve nothing better to do now, how about I present you with a little story I wrote some years back? The whole story is the result of my own imagination. The layout is my own, but I used cliparts from the internet. Sincere apologies if there is someone out there who happened to have created similar characters. If this should come to pass:  Believe me when I say that I had absolutely no idea of it whatsoever.

Alright, do as I’m doing, grab a nice cup of tea – or coffee (each to his own…), sit and enjoy (hopefully). This is just part one, to be continued…

And now, without further ado: here we go…

THE RED BALLOON. By Me.

This was not at all like papa had described the fun fair, the boy thought. His papa had gone into raptures about how great it would be going there together. There would be loads of little houses that you called “booths”, which had only room for about two or three people, and you could watch them doing a whole lot of funny things or you could do a whole lot of funny things yourself there. You’d find booths where you could throw balls at cans and get a teddy bear in exchange, and ones which were filled to the brim with sweets and toys. That’s what Papa had said.

And now he was hanging at his papa’s hand and just saw trees – that is, actually he saw legs – with people attached, but they were so big that they might as well have been trees and they all were surging so close to him that they almost crushed him. He had a hard time keeping up with his papa. He didn’t even see one of the cans you could throw balls at or so. The boy was thirsty, his feet hurt and he was tired. He cried an annoyed protest towards the head of his papa, but his father couldn’t hear him because of the noise of the booths surrounding them.

The little boy found this so frustrating that he needed both hands to give his eyes a thorough rub like when getting up from the after-lunch nap at kindergarten. His papa hadn’t noticed for a moment that his son had let go of his hand and had moved on. The boy had stopped walking and at last the tears started streaming. They ran down his cheeks and splashed on the street like warm rain after a long, hot summer day. He was standing there like a small rock in the breaking waves while the stream of people was washing around him and pulling him forward.

He saw heads bowing down at him from above, he saw frowning faces, heads shaking and eyebrows going up. The crowd waved him in every possible direction and he felt hands brushing over his head. And suddenly he was outside the forest of trees. He gave a few more sobs and stopped in front of a strange open house. Now he had found what they had come for, he thought. This had to be one of the booths papa had told him about. A huge teddy bear was dangling off the ceiling and around it there were a lot more bears, horses, dogs and other stuffed animals. That’s how much he could see. Not more.

The boy stood on tiptoe and pulled himself up on the counter with both hands in order to be able to peek over the rim of the booth. Behind it a small, tubby man with a beard appeared who took an astonished look at the boy over the rim of his glasses. “Well, well, where have you come from all of a sudden? Have you possibly grown out of the ground like a mushroom?” asked the man with a laugh from deep down in his belly. The boy disapprovingly slapped his forehead with his hand. “No”, he answered. “I’m no mushroom, I’m Nick”. “I see. So you are Nick. My name is Samuel” the man said, lent forward and propped himself up on the counter to shake the boy’s hand.

“What can I do for you, Nick?” “Papa said I can have a look at all the booths. What have you got to look at?” “Well, let’s see, what I’ve got” said Samuel, held out his hands, lifted Nick up and sat him down on the counter in front of him.

Samuel had a whole wall full of puppets dangling on strings. “These are marionettes”, Samuel remarked and showed the boy how to make them dance. “And what’s that?” he asked and pointed at a pretty strange-looking thing with quills. “That’s a Gürteltier[1].” he explained and added “this animal comes from a country very far away from here and a friend brought it for me from there.” Nick giggled at the thought of buckling the animal up your trousers like a belt. But at the next moment he decided that it would be much more sensible to make a proper belt out of the animal first before buckling it up. For that surely had to be the purpose of a Gürteltier, he thought. So they spent a whole while absorbed in a game of questions like “What’s this thing?” (Nick) and answers “a snow globe / a globe / an African ceremonial mask…” (Samuel).

At that point Samuel heard an announcement out of the loudspeaker that a man was searching for little Nick and he went to get his mobile phone to call the information desk and say that the runaway had been found.

“Your papa’s already very worried about you, Nick. He is going to be here soon to come and get you.” said Samuel and Nick, who up to that point had been totally absorbed in the treasures that Samuel’s booth contained, all of a sudden became aware of the fact that he had lost his papa and there it was again – that face, which seemed to combine all the world’s pain in one spot and he started crying again and he demanded to see his papa. Samuel regretted saying something and ruining his good mood. He pulled a musical clock from under the counter and wound it up. A clown started turning on the spot, playing an imaginary tune on his trumpet that only he was able to hear. A minute before the toy would have put Nick in a state of utter thrill, but now the only thing he wanted was to cry and to go home. Samuel took a handkerchief and let Nick blow his nose.

At that moment he saw a discomposed young man approaching them, who was calling for Nick and excitedly waving his arms about.

Nick had also seen him and called for his papa at the top of his voice. An instant later his son fell into his arms. It ended with father and son casting reproaches at each other and a thousand apologies and even more promises of never doing it again.

Only then did the man become aware of the fact that he hadn’t realized the owner of the booth. He shook Samuel’s hand and thanked him effusively, still shaken by emotions and with a guilty look on his face. Samuel was a man with kind-hearted eyes for whom the world was not a foreign place and he smiled at Nick’s father encouragingly.

Nick watched the two men from the ground looking from one to the other and laughed. Then he felt being lifted and found himself sitting on his father’s shoulders. His father had already started moving and Nick turned round to Samuel and waved at him. He waved back and then the laughter suddenly left his face and he called them back. He reached for the ceiling, pulled one of the strings hanging down from a maze of stuffed animals and produced a bright red balloon. Nick grabbed it enthusiastically and the two of them marched off with even more thank-yous and waving. Now Nick had all he had wished for this day. His father lapsed into a slightly hopping walk and Nick squealed with delight. He had to hold on to his father’s head with both hands in order not to fall down and he didn’t get anymore that the balloon had glided from his hand and was making off into the blue sky.


[1] Gürteltier = Armadillo. Literal translation „belt animal“ impossible. Pun from German version not transferrable to English. Sorry.