Black Balloon

Sixteen days ago a helium bouquet came into my life. Black and white and perky and bouncy. Sophisticated for a lady kissing goodbye her 20s and embracing her 30s. A surprise. A act of love and acknowledgment to honor a new personal year. It brought joy and made the recipient’s heart beat and her pupils turned to hearts. They were given a week to live – plenty of time to be enjoyed at home and played with and reminded of friendship and love. 

When new things are introduced into an environment there’s an adjustment period. The final outcome is uncertain. It is a natural law. The bouquet made it from hip Chicago central to the far northeast corner of the city, and finally into a private room where they were released as a bunch. The birthday girl fell into a slumber and woke the next morning to see the black and white bouquet clustered at the foot of her bed. She smiled and felt loved. She wrapped herself snug in her bed and allowed herself more rest. It was the first day of her 30th year and life was grand enough to merit a few more hours to herself before the world knew she was alive another day. 

This lady likes to see things through to the end. Death does not concern her. Flowers die. She enjoys them to the final end. Friendships change and she does not cling to something that not longer exists. Boys and men come and go and she loves their time and looks forward to the next crush. Birthday celebrations end and she remembers the party by her balloons – a lasting parting gift. The days came and went and the bouquet lost its novelty. They began to sink and she let them. Their fate was certain. Until one day in the middle of the night one single, black balloon freed itself from the bouquet and found its way to the opposing corner of its pack. A rebel balloon. She noticed it from bed in the morning and felt amused. She and her lover commented on the change. He was scientific and spoke about radiator heat and acknowledged how hot air rises and creates currents with cooler air so that something as light and buoyant as a balloon could travel 20 feet northeast. She respected his theory but mused that he had broken free for his own life. A runaway black balloon. It was the balloon’s will and he had taken decisive action and he had struck out on his own. This notion was much more amusing to her and romantic. If only it were a sheep, rather than a balloon. The day rolled forward and the balloons were left to be – as it were they seemed to be taking on their own ideas of existence. 

The story was cute and became a joke between them. Words are powerful and they are sometimes the push a circumstance needs to topple a dream into reality. The balloon traveled further north into the walk-in closet. It seemed to reflect upon itself in the mirror for a couple of days. Had it become unsure of its decision to break away? Did it feel safely cocooned in the central room of the space? A brief respite from its risky and bold move? With more courage the balloon drifted further north and further east into the bathroom. It seems to be making a break for the window. But the window is closed. A dead end. Like a rat in a maze. 

In the meantime the pack left behind has fallen to the floor. Their lives have collectively ended and yet the black balloon stays buoyant. Tapping at the window to be let free. What higher power controls its fate? A willful inanimate object. A brave balloon. Was the latex somehow more dense? Was the helium supercharged for just a minute? Was there a blessing on this one black balloon? Did the words infuse magic into the air for the balloon to gain the advantage it needed? Its fate is still uncertain and it is still moving toward something for its singular self and existence. Its simple, inanimate, inspiring existence. 

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