Fiction

Ballooning

By: Anthony Ward

I was feeling somewhat deflated, standing all alone at the bar, watching everyone live their lives while I was dying to live out mine. With my moods heaving from the atmosphere, I felt the urge to head outside for a breather.

No sooner had I sparked up a cigarette, I sensed the shadow of a figure hurling a hello at me. Although I allowed the first hello to ricochet, I couldn’t ignore the second as it hit me right between the ears.

I turned around to see the silhouette fill with colour. Long, dark, waves of dusky hair streaked down her face that was splashed with a sprinkling of fawny freckles. Her hazel eyes glazed with drink, she started sending me sottish soaked sentences. She told me about the day that had led up to this night. About how she ended up being separated from her friends by the bouncer who wouldn’t let her in as she’d had too much to drink, and how she thought she hadn’t had enough.

“Enough, or too much!” I said, trying to be witty. She looked up at me and smiled through her saturated hair, which had been caught by her lip, before brushing it behind her ear. It was then I realised how beautiful she was. She was real beautiful. Like that girl you never fancy until you realise you do. Except this was instant.

“Do I seem that drunk to you?” she inquired, her head falling to one side.

“Not really,” I lied as honestly as I could. “You look fine to me.”

She nestled into me and asked me to hold her. As I did, I looked out towards the sun settling below the roof of the Empire theatre.

“Have you ever seen that film Up?” she asked.

“Up? Yeah. I saw it many years ago.”

“You know that film,” she continued, “when he lifts himself up with all those balloons and flies away?”

 “Yeah. He lifts his house up with, like, thousands of balloons,” I reciprocated, slanting my head ponderingly, allowing a smile to slide out.

“It’s like you’ve given me all those balloons,” she said before lifting herself up off the seat and stumbling back into the bar.

And that was it. She was gone. I remained there for a while tethered to the spot going over that line. Thinking it was the best line any gal had ever given me.

Once I’d stubbed my second cigarette out into the ashtray I started to feel light on my feet. As I headed back inside, my legs started going from under me and I kept knocking into doors and walls before bouncing against the bar where I came to a standstill. I looked around for her, but I couldn’t find her amongst the molecules of people atomised about me.

I placed my head in my hands and let it bob, feeling around for a face. My animated expression stretched out until my head felt taut, all smooth and symmetrical.

I drifted away. Out through the open window. Floating above the rooftops. Running my feet along the tiles. Rising higher and higher until I was amongst the clouds, looking down upon the world, where the landscape looked at is if had snowed green.

Before long, my head was bobbing back and forth with the wind pushing against me, as I realised that someone was prodding me. Poking fun at me. But not funnily. Then he put his arm around me and pointed to his group. ‘Hey! have you seen this balloon.’

My drawn-on expression stretched a smile as the pressure inside me rose, turning red with the increasing temperature. I thought I was going to pop!

But alas, my face began to scrunch, and I slowly deflated, my head laid flat in a pool of beer on the bar.

Categories: Fiction

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