That day, the balloons soared.
He asked me, “Why did you let them all go?”
I didn’t answer.
Balloons. It was at some wedding of people I didn’t know. I didn’t know anyone, actually. Maybe I’d walked into the wrong wedding. Who knows. So I walked out of the tent with my drink in hand, bored.
There were bunches of balloons tied everywhere. The color scheme seemed all over the place, like the balloon supplier had run out of red and gold halfway through and had to use blue and silver instead. Or maybe the other way around.
Bounce, bounce, bounce. When you pushed against balloons filled with helium, they bounced back towards you, refusing to stay down. Bobbing, straining against their ribbons, trying to fly away.
I remember back when we blew up balloons as kids. There was always the threat of blowing them too much and having them explode in our faces. My lungs grew tired, and the latex tasted disgusting. It was even harder to tie the knot.
And after blowing up the balloon, it hung limp on its string. We would pretend that they were our pet dogs and drag them around until gradually we forgot them in a corner, and they slowly deflated.
No, the best part about blowing up balloons back then was letting them go before tying the know, and watching them shoot around the room like some sort of escaped bird. The thrill, the rush of excitement…
And then the balloon would rest, limp and worn out, over the back of a chair or on a table or in a corner, where we couldn’t get it out.
“Aren’t balloons mainly for kids’ parties?” I asked the stranger next to me, who also seemed bored with the events within.
“That’s why they come in adult colors too,” he replied, also flicking the balloons, watching them sway. “But it seems like they didn’t know what colors to do for this wedding.”
At kids’ parties, there were never many balloons. Maybe one or two helium ones tied to the birthday kid’s chair. Other cheap ones blown up at home hung up in limp bunches around the yard.
“Are these what they call a balloon bouquet?” I asked.
“I think those are slightly different.”
I finished my drink in silence, watching my warped reflection in the plastic. Heh. Barely anyone here was looking at them. Soon they’d be thrown away, or deflated, or taken somewhere and forgotten.
“Why did you let them all go?” the stranger asked me.
As a child there was some sort of terror in letting a balloon, go, watching it float away to where it would never return, and there was a feeling of wanting to cry. A precious balloon, gone…
But now, releasing so many balloons into the quiet sky, it felt freeing, somehow, like I was sending a part of myself up with them, to somewhere far away…
And who knows, maybe some kids would see them, maybe they’d land over a kid’s birthday party, and they would all have balloons to play with…