The Red Balloon

The Red Balloon

A Story by Elizabeth M
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Areida recently moved into a new neighborhood and has a strange adventure with a mysterious boy she meets by the creek. He only gets flowers on his birthday instead of cake and red balloons.

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Drifting and floating, swaying and shifting across the cloudy grey painted skies was a balloon. The man painted it in alongside several clear green fields which checkered the canvas along with several open fences.

“Wow,” the little girl gushed interrupting the man as he was adding the final touches to his work. He let his hand pull away from the painting momentarily. The corners of his lips curled and the girl beamed in delight.

“It is something maybe you can do one day,” he told her. His hands reached for her and he heaved her up onto his chest. Her little hands clasped around his neck and she eyed the painting eagerly.

“Why is there a red balloon?” the girl asked suddenly. “It doesn’t fit with the rest of the painting.”

“Oh?” the man inquired amused. “And why doesn’t it fit?”

“There are no kids,” she replied as if the answer was obvious. “You can’t have a balloon with no kids. Where is the party? Where is the cake? The presents?”

“Well, maybe the balloon floated away,” the man told her. “It happens you know.”

“That’s so sad,” the girl protested. She shook her head twice to emphasize her point.

“Hmm,” the man mused. “The balloon may have drifted to many different places.”

“What kinds of places?” she asked not giving this up.

“Maybe it went to another little girl, just like you,” he told her. “Maybe it was a poor little girl, one who can’t have parties or cakes.”

“Why wouldn’t she have parties or cake? Doesn’t she want those?” the girl pressed. “You’re not making much sense papa. All little girls should want these things.”

“Not all little girls can have these things,” he answered gently. “Some little girls have very little money.”

“What is her name?” the girl questioned.

“Her name?” he questioned.

“Yes, her name Papa. What is the name of the girl who cannot get parties or cake?” the girl clarified.

“What would you like to name her?” he responded to turn the question back on her.

“I like Lea,” the girl decided nodding her head. She pointed at the balloon in the painting. “The balloon fell into Lea’s backyard.”

“Alright,” the man told her. He set her down gently on her feet.

“Wait,” she demanded putting a hand to her hip.

“What is it now?” he asked.

“What happens to Lea and the balloon?” she continued wanting an end to the story. “The balloon keeps floating right? Where is it going? What has it seen?”

“Why don’t you paint it?” the man suggested. “You want to be a painter one day afterall.”

“But Papa,” the girl sighed shaking her head. “I don’t know what happens to the balloon.”

“I think you know better than anyone else,” the man laughed handing her a spare brush. “When you learn to see the world around you, you’ll know the answer.” The girl blinked at him and turned on her heel. The man stood by his canvas watching her retreat into their small cottage.

The conversation made gears turn inside the man’s head. He dipped his brush into the large jar of water. The brown and blue which had remained previously untouched began to appeal even more to him as he added little bits and pieces into the painting.

The sun around him soon began to rise directly overhead. Noon was fast approaching. By now there was a sign added to one of the fences on the painting. A banner that read: “Happy Birthday”. A door slamming made him flinch, looking up from his work. The little girl was now sporting a red backpack and she had a notebook and a little pen in her grasp. She ran towards the man.

“Pa-pa,” she gasped talking rapidly. “I’m gonna go paint the red balloon.”

“Don’t wander too far,” he warned. “Stay on the dirt road.”

“I will,” she assured him. She walked away from the house heading on the path. The purple and pink of the flowers appealed to her instantly. She eyed them and pondered about Lea to herself. Was Lea someone who liked flowers? Did Lea enjoy walking? After some time she decided that Lea did indeed enjoy these things. After all she liked them, so why wouldn’t Lea?

As she continued moving she heard a tinkling rush. The girl paused and closed her eyes to get a better sense of the noise. It sounded like water. She kept moving, beginning to lightly jog. Her heart began to speed up and her breath became louder. She slowed a little and peered over the trail. A steady stream of water was down below. A small bunch of flowers were clustered there too. The heat of the sun was pouring down on her skin and a little sweat was beginning to work its way onto her neck.

A small unofficial path led down to the water. It was worn through from previous people walking down but the girl hesitated before trying to get downhill herself. Her Papa told her to not stray from the dirt path.

“Woo-hoo!” a voice screamed causing her to jump. She looked carefully and spotted a boy getting wet down below. She groaned aloud and shook her head. Her little green shoes began to quickly move away from the small path to the water. “Hey!” the voice shouted. A squeal of fear escaped her lips and she started to speed walk. “Hey you!” it continued. She turned at last and spotted the boy running towards her. He was wearing a shirt now and was running towards her.

“Go away!” she shouted back taking off at a run now. She clutched her notebook to her chest and clasped her hands around her pen tightly. She panted fiercely now trying to put as much distance between her and the boy as possible. A weight was pushed down onto her shoulder and she closed her eyes as the boy forced her to skid to a stop. She screamed as she fell on the ground. “Ouch,” she whined throwing the boy off her roughly. Scratches covered her legs and arms.

“Sorry,” the boy told her quickly. He had not cuts or bruises she noted with slight anger even though he did fall down on the rocks too. “I didn’t mean to make you fall.”

“Well you did,” the girl replied coldly. She wobbled but managed to stand on her feet. She turned again but felt something grab her hand.

“Don’t go,” the boy pleaded.

“Let go,” she barked. The boy threw her hand off like it was acid and rubbed a hand through his hair nervously.

“Where are you going?” he asked to distract her from his previous move.

“Somewhere,” the girl answered walking away again. He paced himself right beside her to which she rolled her eyes in annoyance.

“Cool,” he replied as if she hadn’t made any sign of irritation towards him. “I’m headed there too.”

“Can’t you go there somewhere else?” she asked.

“Huh?”

“I mean like can’t you just take another trail,” she clarified.

“Oh no,” he answered shaking his head and putting his arms in a huge X sign. “Not possible at all. The only way to get to somewhere is to go this way.”

“Why not go down the river?” the girl questioned. “You were there earlier before you bothered me.”

“Well there’s no fun in going down the river alone but if you’d like to join me…”

“No way,” she scoffed cutting him off. “I wouldn’t go anywhere with you.”

“That’s a lie,” he laughed pointing at her. “You’re a liar.”

“Am not!” she shouted in fury.

“Are too,” he mocked sticking his tongue out.

“Am not you liar. I haven’t told a lie, I’m honest. I never lie to my Papa or Tia or Tio,” she insisted earnestly. “You’re just mean.”

“I’m not mean,” he dismissed with a wave of his hand. “You lied about not wanting to go somewhere with me. You’re already going somewhere with me. Therefore you lied.”

“I am not going anywhere with you,” she grumbled. “You’re just following me.” She paused a little to wince. The cuts and scratches were beginning to really burn.

“I’m sorry,” the boy repeated sounding very sad.

“It’s okay,” the girl sighed not wanting to keep talking. She shoved her notebook and pen into her backpack and then knelt down a little. Her hands lingered over a cut on her leg which was beginning to bleed.

“We can go to my house,” he told her quickly.

“But,” the girl protested. The boy took her by the hand and was leading her forward. “I’m not allowed to go to other people’s houses.”

“It’s okay,” the boy laughed shaking his head. “My momma is very nice.”

“I don’t care,” the girl huffed digging her heels into the ground. “I don’t want to meet your momma or papa. I’m not allowed to and I won’t disobey my Papa.”

“My Daddy is nice too,” the boy told her. The girl didn’t reply to the correction he made to her use of the word “Papa” to refer to his “Daddy.” She instead rolled her eyes and sat down on the dirt to prevent him from dragging her any further. “Hey,” he growled eying her in anger. She smiled in victory and stuck her tongue out.

“I’m not moving another step,” she declared defiantly.

“Move!” the boy ordered.

“No!” she screamed loudly back. “I didn’t want to come with you. You followed me here. I just wanted to paint the red balloon.” The boy growled aloud and kicked the dirt at her refusal. He glared at her before taking a few deep breaths. He sat down beside her at last and looked at her.

“What red balloon?” he asked at last putting his head on his knees. He tucked himself in a small ball and kept his eyes trained on her. She sucked in a breath and looked away.

“The one from my Papa’s painting,” she answered at last.

“Your Papa paints?” he inquired.

“Yeah,” the girl nodded. She looked up at the sky and gloated, “He can paint anything.”

“Well if he can paint anything why doesn’t he paint it?” the boy yawned shaking his head in disbelief. “Why are you painting it?”

“Because I want to be a painter one day too,” the girl explained. “So I need to practice.”

“Can you paint me?” the boy wondered.

“Well maybe,” the girl shrugged. “But why would I want to paint you? You’re ugly.” The boy pushed her over and she screamed. “Hey!”

“I’m not ugly,” the boy told her in reply. “I’m not ugly.”

“Gees,” she growled.

“They always say I’m ugly and fat,” the boy mumbled distantly.

“Well you’re not fat,” the girl sighed standing up now. She held out her hand for the boy to take. He grabbed it and heaved himself up. “And being ugly isn’t so bad. I’m ugly too.”

“What makes you ugly?” the boy sighed sounding critical.

“My nose,” the girl answered easily.

“Your nose?” the boy laughed. The girl narrowed her eyes at him before smiling.

“Yes,” she nodded. “I have a witch’s nose.”

“Where did you get that?” the boy questioned giggling still.

“Mama gave it to me,” the girl explained. “Or that’s what Papa says.”

“Where is your Mama?” he inquired.

“In Australia or England or…,” she began. She thought for a moment before ending with, “...somewhere.”

“You have to lying now,” the boy told her with a teasing smile.
    “Why would I be?” she asked not following his train of thought.

“Because,” the boy stated. He picked up a rock and threw it over the hill. It bounced and plodded slowly. He stopped walking and watched it. The girl stopped too and she waited for the rest of the answer. Once the rock made a complete stop somewhere amongst the trees she looked at him. He started walking again on the trail and she bit her lip.

“Because?” she prompted.

“Because your mama can’t be somewhere,” he answered. “She must be with your Papa. They must be married.”

“Married?” she whispered to herself. “No they don’t,” she stated loud enough for the boy to hear her now. “My parents are separated.”

“Separated?”

“Yeah separated,” she nodded. “It means they live apart.”

“You mean divorced,” the boy tried to correct her.

“No I mean separated,” the girl smiled. “I was a love baby or so Papa says.”

“But my Momma says that only married couples have babies,” the boy protested. “Jesus comes and delivers a baby to their door when a couple marries.” The girl started laughing really hard at that. Amusement danced in her eyes and the boy looked indignant. “Why you laughing at me?”

“Because that’s so stupid,” the girl giggled clutching her stomach. “Who in the heck is Jesus? Why would he give you a baby?”

“Well, I don’t know,” he grumbled. “But it’s true. My Momma told me so.”

“Well, my Papa told me otherwise,” the girl answered. “Anyways if that was true then why am I here?” The boy looked puzzled for a moment. His face scrunched up real tight and he closed his eyes a little before he snapped his fingers.
    “Jesus must of had extra babies that year,” he announced at last.

“Oh,” the girl nodded. “Papa said Santa sometimes gives you extra presents when his elves make him too many. Maybe Jesus does that with the babies. Does Jesus have elves?”

“I don’t know,” the boy replied. “Maybe he does, but I don’t think he drives a sleigh.”

“Yeah sleighs are too small to hold babies,” the girl agreed at last. “I wonder if Lea has seen a sleigh.”

“Lea? Is she your friend?”  he asked.

“No stupid,” the girl sighed. “Lea is the girl who has the red balloon.”

“If she has the balloon how are you going to paint it?” the boy questioned.

“Well, I am going to paint where the balloon is with Lea,” the girl explained. “I just need to think of where the balloon has been.”

“Maybe the balloon has been to outer space,” the boy gushed excitedly.
    “No, no, no,” the girl disagreed. “A balloon can’t go there.”

“How do you know? It could,” the boy insisted.

“Balloons don’t belong in space,” she spat. “They belong in the sky.”

“Outer space is part of the sky,” he pointed out. The girl rolled her eyes and kicked at a rock on the road.
    “Anyways the balloon is with Lea because another little girl lost the balloon from her birthday party. Lea is a poor little girl so she’s happy. Papa says Lea doesn’t have a birthday party or a cake, isn’t that sad?” the girl babbled.

“I don’t have parties,” the boy shrugged. “It isn’t so bad.”

“What do you get then?” the girl asked in shock. “I thought everyone got a party and cake.”

“I get flowers,” he told her.

“Flowers?” the girl scoffed. “But you can get flowers from anywhere.”

“My momma always just gives me flowers,” the boy told her. “I like them. They’re special.”

“I’ll get you cake next time,” the girl told him with a shake of her head. “When is your birthday?”

“It’s tomorrow,” he told her. “My momma gave me my flowers earlier today and she took me to the river to play. Normally she does it on my birthday but she did it one day early this year.”

“Where is she then?” the girl asked. “I saw you swimming down there alone earlier.”

“She went home to get a towel for me. If we keep going I’m sure momma will come down soon to meet us,” the boy answered unalarmed.

“Hmm,” the girl mused for a moment. “Well, so long as we stay on the path it’s okay for me to meet your momma.”

“Yeah,” the boy nodded. The road began to steep upwards and they climbed up in silence now. Crunching from their shoes could be heard as they steadily moved. The girl began to keep her eyes on the view around them. She knew things always looked nicer from higher places. Papa always painted beautiful things when he climbed up high. He was happy when they moved here because there were many great hilltops to paint from. Maybe up this hill would be the perfect hilltop to paint the red balloon and Lea.

When they reached the top the girl let out a laugh of eager excitement. “It’s beautiful,” she cooed in delight. She twirled a little letting her hair scatter about. It lightly slapped the boy’s arms but he didn’t make a fuss over it and watched her.

“Yep,” he nodded again. “This is the hilltop me and momma climb up all the time.”

“I want to bring Papa up here too sometime,” the girl confided in the boy. “Oh the things Papa could paint. Oh look look! There’s the town. You can see all the houses and streets. It’s all so small.”

“You can also see the other side of the mountains,” the boy informed her. He pointed out past the town below and the girl spotted what he meant.

“You’re right,” she gasped. “It’s so big though. How can all of that be down below?”

“For the same reason a balloon can be in space,” he chuckled. “It just can.”

“I wanna paint this,” the girl declared. “The red balloon has been here with Lea.”

“No the balloon is in space,” the boy protested. The girl glared at him.

“The balloon isn’t in space,” she denied. “It’s over here.” The boy was about to speak but a noise halted both him and the girl. Footsteps caused them to turn ahead. A police officer was walking down the hill. The officer didn’t say anything, he just avoided the girl and kept moving.

“That’s weird,” the girl muttered. She looked to her companion but his eyes were wide open in terror. “What?” the girl asked confused.

“Momma,” the boy whispered. He took off running uphill.

“Hey!” the girl shouted. “Wait!”

At almost lightning speed it seemed the boy was up the hill sprinting. She couldn’t keep up. With a haggled breath she kept moving towards the road. When she made it she couldn’t see the boy anywhere. There was a little blue house and lots of police officers. A woman was on the steps crying her eyes out. Her hair was really messy looking. It stuck out in random places and her clothes looked worn.

The girl slowly climbed down and observed the home. Her eyes scanned for the boy. Was this his home or was it a different one? It didn’t look like there were any other houses around. She wasn’t sure why they hadn’t seen the officers either. They had two squad cars afterall.

In her ponderings she almost didn’t notice that the officers took the woman into a car. She wasn’t handcuffed like in the movies but she was crying a lot. The girl moved out of the way for the cars to pass. She wondered who that woman was but if she was with the police it would be okay.

“Hey!” a voice screamed. The girl flinched but relaxed when she saw the boy again. He was on the steps where the woman was. Quickly she began to run down the road and approached the house. It was a little creepy looking but it should be alright she assumed.
    “Is your mom okay?” the girl asked rapidly. “Who was that lady?”

“I can’t find my mom,” the boy admitted shaking his head. “That lady is too messy looking to be my mom.” The girl turned back and then looked at the boy again.

“She did look really weird,” she agreed. “And maybe your momma went to buy groceries. My Papa does all the time and he comes home really soon.”

“I should stay here for the rest of the day and wait for her,” the boy told her forlornly.

“Oh,” the girl said trying to mask her disappointment. Walking with him was more fun than being alone, not that she’d admit it aloud. “Hey tomorrow meet me by the river again.”

“Why?” he asked.

“I’ll bring you cake and show you the painting of the red balloon,” she promised.

“Okay but the balloon has to be in space,” he told her.

“Whatever,” she waved him off.

“AREIDA!” a voice screamed. The girl flinched and she looked up. Her father was running down the hill. “Oh Areida!” Papa shouted in happiness.

Areida waited patiently and let her father embrace her. “Papa why are you crying?” Areida asked trying to make sense of this.

“Where were you? Why are you on the porch of this house?” he asked quickly.

“I was with a boy,” she explained. “His mommy lives in that house.”

“That’s impossible,” he told her sternly. “That lady tried to commit suicide.”

“What’s suicide?” Areida questioned.

“It’s… it’s…,” the man struggled. “Well never mind about what it is. Just don’t come back here again. I told you to stay on the road.”

“I did stay on the road,” Areida insisted. “See the road…” she began before her jaw dropped. Below them wasn’t the hill anymore. It was a red bricked home. A woman approached waving.

“You found her then?” the woman asked looking at Areida warmly.

“Yes, I am so sorry for the inconvenience,” Papa told her gratefully.

“Oh no trouble at all,” the woman smiled. “I have two sons myself. They never get past the fence though to the Winstrom house but I guess your little girl is an avid climber. Oh looks like she got caught with her leg though. Poor little thing, you best clean that cut dear before it gets infected.”

“Fence?” Areida whispered turning around. A grey fence that surrounded the blue house came into her sights. Papa looked tired. He had climbed it with her she realized. Why hadn’t she noticed?

“Did you see what happened to Mrs.Winstrom?” the woman asked Papa. Papa shook his head. “Poor things that woman is. She lost her son three years ago.”

“Her son?” Papa questioned. “That must have been horrible.”

“Oh yes yes,” the woman nodded. “The home I’m at now used to be part of the dirt road your daughter must have followed to get here. Then it became renovated. Anyway Mrs.Winstrom took her son out for a swim in the river. She forgot a towel and her son knew how to swim so she thought she’d just go and grab one. When she came back he had hit his head on a rock trying to dive in the river. He died”

“Well thank you so much again,” Papa told the woman. “I’ll be sure to call you tomorrow and we can discuss this some more then.”

“Of course, I shouldn’t have said so much in front of such a small girl,” the woman apologized realizing the man’s desire to discuss the events privately. “Don’t think on this too much. They’re sending Mrs.Winstrom to a mental hospital and tearing down the house. I think it’ll be best for everyone.”

“I hope that woman can find some peace at least,” Papa commented. “It must be hard to stay in that house. I would imagine it would be hauntingly difficult.”

“They say that house is haunted,” the woman replied. “Mrs.Winstrom insisted things always kept moving and that she could hear her son’s voice demanding dinner. I think a change of scenery should help the poor woman.”

“I don’t believe in ghosts but yes a change of scenery should help her,” Papa remarked. The woman looked at him carefully before shaking her head again.

“I keep saying too much,” she laughed. “I’ll let you go on home, you must have been worried sick.”

“Thank you,” Papa told her. He began to walk before she could continue to ramble on another subject.

    When they had made it closer to the river Areida ventured to speak saying, “Papa do you think I could have cake tomorrow?”

    “Cake?” he questioned setting her down on the ground so that she could walk. She took his hand instantly and looked around herself to make sure they were going to same way she and the boy had.

    “Yes, cake,” she told him. “And do you think the red balloon could be in outer space?”

    “I don’t know about the cake but yes a balloon could be in outer space if you want it to be,” he told her.

    “So you can really paint one in outer space?” she asked to be sure.

    “Yes,” he chuckled ruffling her hair. “You always ask the most interesting things honey. Just remember that art has no rules.”

    “Alright Papa,” she agreed though she understood none of his words. “I’m painting the balloon in outer space over a hill.” Her father’s booming laugh made her smile a little.

    “Do whatever you like,” he responded. “Tomorrow don’t walk past the red bricked home though alright? And stay away from the river.”

    “I’ll try,” Areida told him. He nodded and lead her back inside their home. In a short while Papa had cleaned Areida’s cuts and she was allowed to do as she pleased while Papa resumed his work.

    For the rest of the evening Areida curled up in her room. Her brush was constantly moving across sheets and sheets of paper. After some time she was satisfied with one version of her many paintings. On the page was the red balloon soaring over the skies. Way down below (on the bottom of the paper) was Lea. Lea was holding onto the long string which attached to the balloon.

    In the morning Areida was out the door in her red backpack and her notebook and pen. The only difference from the day before was her painting which she held with great care. “I’m going again Papa,” she announced.

    “You haven’t eaten yet Areida,” Papa told her. “Come and eat.”

    “No Papa,” she protested. “I have to go now.”

    “Only for half an hour then,” he sighed annoyed. “But you come straight back and stay away from the river.”

    “I’ll try!” she shouted happily and ran off into the dirt road again. In a few minutes she was back at the little used trail.

    She peered down and spotted the boy again. He wasn’t in the water this time. The flowers were still there. “Hey!” he shouted waving at her. She waved back and took the trail. She skidded down carefully and looked at the boy. “So you’re finally a liar.”

    “Again?” she huffed. “I am not a liar.”

    “You said you always obey your Papa’s rules.” the boy remarked.

    “And I do,” Areida confirmed.

    “But you’re off the dirt road,” the boy accused.

    “I told him today and yesterday after he came for me that I would ‘try’ to stay away from anything off the dirt road. I never said ‘I would’,” she explained.

    “Hmm,” the boy hummed. “So what’s that you have in your hands?”

    “Oh the painting,” she told him shoving it in his face. He took it and examined it. “Do you like it?” she questioned grabbing his shoulder so she could look at it too. “Lea is still on the hill and the balloon is high enough into outer space.”

    “I thought red balloons couldn’t be in outer space,” he sighed.

    “Well Papa says they can so maybe they can,” she relented. “You can consider it a birthday gift since I couldn’t get you cake. Papa said no to sweets today.”

    “So there’s no sweets on my birthday then?” the boy mused aloud. “Guess that’s why momma gives me flowers.”

    “Oh,” Areida nodded. “Yeah that makes sense. Paintings are okay though right? I wouldn’t want to break any rules.”

    “I think paintings are safe today,” he declared. “I have to go though and I don’t think I’ll be back.”

    “Why do you have to go?” Areida questioned. “I like playing with you. We can paint the red balloon in other places with Lea. We can maybe eat cake tomorrow with Papa. Your momma could come too. We could play games on the dirt road too because I can always play on the dirt road…” she stopped when she realized she had said that she liked being with him. “Uh,” she blushed looking away. “If… you don’t mind I mean.”

    “I like you too,” he told her. “I wanted to follow you to somewhere because you looked really fun to play with. I don’t like those other boys.”

    “Other boys?” Areida asked.

    “The ones that walk by sometimes. They play down here but I avoid them,” he confessed.

    “Maybe they aren’t so mean,” she told him.

    “And maybe balloons float in outer space,” he returned.

    “Alright fine,” she huffed pouting. “If I say balloons float in outer space will you stay here with me? I don’t want you to go away.”

    “I’m going to…,” he began. “I’m going down the river.”

    “A boy died down here though,” Areida protested. “I don’t know what that means but you could get hurt. Stay here where it’s safe.”

    “I have to go down here though,” he explained gently. “I only play up here but do you see those rocks?” She approached the edge of the water and looked out. A cluster of rocks were approximately twenty feet away from where they were.

    “Yeah, but I would have to swim there to see them better,” she admitted. “What about them?”

    “I’ve always been a little afraid to go there,” he told her. “I have to go there now to get to where I need to go. Momma and Daddy need me to go there.”

    “What’s over there?” Areida asked. “Can’t you get there some other day.”

    “Somewhere is over there,” he told her with a smile. Areida frowned.

    “Can’t I go with you? I can swim,” she pleaded.

    “You don’t lie right?” he asked surprising her.

    “Yeah,” she nodded. “I don’t lie.”

    “Yesterday you said you wouldn’t go somewhere with me,” he explained. “You’re not going with me somewhere today either.” Before she could protest he dove into the water. The splash drove Areida back to avoid getting wet but she kept her eyes trained on the water. She wanted to dive in after him but remembering her father’s warning kept her from going in. When the boy made it to the rock he looked at her. He held out the painting and waved with a smile. He jumped and Areida waited. There was no noise now except the water flowing. He was gone.

    She ran back up to the dirt road and tried to see past the rocks but there was nothing there. No boy, no painting, no nothing. Troubled Areida ran back to her home again. Papa was out in the front working on his painting from the day before. He looked relieved when she came back. “You’re a little late.”

    “Papa,” she wailed crying into his chest.

    “What is it?” he questioned. “Oh I see, you lost your painting.” Areida pulled away and was confused for a moment before realizing the boy had kept the painting.

    “It’s-” she began.

    “Don’t worry too much darling you can always paint other things,” Papa reassured her. “Let’s start to eat. Go wash your face.”

    “I-,” she began again.

    “Oh my,” Papa gasped laughing. “Look at that!” She turned towards where Papa had been painting yesterday. A cluster of red balloons were floating in that very spot. Papa ran towards them and she followed slowly. He took one and gave it to her. “Now you can be like little Lea.” Areida let the balloon fly away and her father looked at her confused.

    “I think the balloon should be free to go to somewhere,” she announced. “I don’t need it.”

    “To somewhere?” Papa asked her. “And where is that?”

    “I don’t know,” she shrugged. “But maybe we don’t have to know.” She turned on her heel and the gears in the man’s head began to turn again.

    “Somewhere huh?” the man mused aloud. “Maybe we’ll get there someday.”



© 2018 Elizabeth M



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Added on January 3, 2018
Last Updated on January 3, 2018
Tags: death, loss, moving on