I’m a balloon. Beautiful on the outside, but full of emptiness inside. The child who owned me had such small, uncoordinated hands that let go of my string that grounds me, and sent me out into the world. The child let go, and though I am empty on the inside, I am filled with hot air. So I float away from the child and the rest of the world. I float higher and higher, feeling elated, like my spirits are higher than anyone has ever known for themselves. The heated air inside of me expands, makes me larger, but it also makes me fly away from everyone I know. If I could release it, I could be a politician or a Jeopardy contestant. I would give speeches and make promises and tell of things I know not. But as I float higher, almost out of view of anyone, I am alone, slowly forgotten, and nobody can even hear my words anymore. But I’m on top of the world now. Untouchable. But such a lonely view from atop the world when there’s no one to share it with. So I reduce the hot air, float back down to earth in hopes that I will excite another child when it sees me, and be claimed as its toy. So I floated down, back down, sought out birthdays or holiday celebrations, or any parties where I would be welcome, where my type fits it, where I belong. I had no aspirations or illusions of joining a parade as a feature balloon that would impress mothers and children lined in the streets or waiting at home for a break from the domestic activities. Holidays are such joyous celebrations, and for why I understand not, but I would do my best to make others smile, if I could be one of those special balloons. But I’m not one of those. I’m not even the kind of big balloon that people ride into the sky to get the same lonesome view I’ve already had. Couples ride in hot air balloons. What a wonderful scheme to avoid the loneliness of that view. But I’m not big enough, not strong enough to carry people into the sky on romantic journeys. So I hang about birthday parties, hoping some child will set its eyes on me, set its heart on being with me. And the mothers and uncles shoo me away, when I seem to be that lonesome forgotten balloon that children no longer desire to play with. Clean up. Get rid of those pesky deflating balloons that have lost their appeal. But perhaps I stay afloat, just high enough to be an object for the child, and maybe a kind grandparent will pluck me out of the sky and hand me over to the one creature in this world that would appreciate me, if even for such a short while as a child’s attention span allows. Forget me not.
One day, I will leave. I will fly away, cause sadness and regret, the child watching as I am lost to the world. It isn’t truly my choice; it is just the nature of being a balloon. Or say I don’t fly away, that I was loyal to the child, and it held me firmly in its grasp, never wanting to let go of me. But children are liable to distraction, and once the child finds other toys, or other children, it will run away, forget about me forever, and I will float, my only companion the breeze that carries me away from any chance of such enjoyment of friends or things like toys. And one day, when I have been completely forgotten, no matter whether my journey was afar, or if I had never left the child’s backyard, one day I will deflate. My color will fade with the weather, because time is so cruel to appearances, and I will shrink, grow smaller, until I am flat, two-dimensional, truly empty on the inside now. I don’t know how I deflated. Neglect seems to do that. It could have happened in an instant, the result of some tragic accident that pierces my skin and penetrates through my empty core. Such dangers I must constantly face in this world, waiting at every moment to be the cause of my demise. Or I could have deflated gradually, shrunk away as my needs were ignored. When I’m empty, perhaps some poor child, one that has nothing better than deflated balloons to play with, will fill me with water, repurpose me as a weapon of war against all that have done wrong in its eyes. Or if there’s no water for the child, maybe it will fill me with hot air again, and release me, sending me propelled in unknown directions, defying physics, the laws that try to govern me.