I know the birthday kid is a little girl. I heard her name: Hannah. I haven’t seen her yet, I’m buried too deep in the bag. But now, the bag is open!
My brothers and sisters that go before me, I wish them luck. They are going on to great and wonderful things.
And now…now it’s my turn!
Rough fingers grab me by my bottom, and I breathe my first breath of fresh air in months. I was beginning to forget what anything but rubber smelled like.
My heart opens up to wonder, like a flower seeking the summer sun. I wonder, what is my fate? Will I get blown up my mouth, her father’s rummy lips on my opening? Or was I to be a water balloon? Ooh to live fast, and die young. That is truly the dream.
Oh. Something cold has entered my orifice, metal and cold. A faucet?! I hope so.
But no, I hear a hiss, feel the cold air fill my body. Ah, helium. A most inglorious fate. A slow, sad death miles above the Earth. I resign myself to my fate, what choice does a balloon have?
Oh, but the party is glorious! The birthday girl is beautiful, with dark hair and fair skin, and a megawatt smile. She laughs, and plays, and runs until she is red faced. Her mother, a rubinesque (yes, we pick up big words hanging on the party store rack all day) beauty in her own right, tied me by a pink ribbon to Hannah’s wrist. Me!
I catch my reflection as she runs past an above ground pool. I am a sight in bright yellow! Oh I am lovely!
The day wears on, the temperature rising with the arc of the July sun, and my ribbon begins to chafe. Hannah’s mother approaches and tears my ribbon, separating me from my elated anchor. She hands the remnants of the ribbon to Hannah, but her mind is on play, and I am released.
Before I know it, I am in the wind. This is it, the ignoble end. I will drift higher and higher until, unseen, I will be torn apart by the expanding gas within me. If I had tear ducts, this is where the waterworks would start.
I can see the whole neighborhood now. Grey roofs, grey roads, a smattering of green. Higher still I climb, carried east by the warm summer breeze.
I leave behind the green oaks, manicured lawns, and neutral man-made structures. I go higher and higher, And I feel myself growing larger, my skin pulling tighter. Despite my impending doom, a warm happiness spreads across my being.
Beneath me a snaking grey highway gives way to a blue-green river, winding its way through a lush valley. It is beautiful. Around me, the air thins out. I’m getting higher, I know it will be any moment now. I ache with the stretch.
I turn as best I can toward the sun. I bask in it’s light.
Ah, here it comes.
I can only hope it ends qui