Flash in the Pan

A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights

The Balloon

by Lynn Sunday

My son Brad was two the sunny April day I took him to Central Park in New York City. After he rode the carousel, and climbed on the monkey bars, I bought him a big red balloon on a string. He was delighted and reached out for it, a huge grin on his face. But the day was windy, so I tied the string to Brad's stroller instead. "So it won't blow away," I explained. My independent boy didn't like that.

"No, I want to hold it myself!" he insisted over and over in that persistent tone kids take, that high little voice designed by nature to wear parents down until they give in.

"Ok," I said, and untied the string from the stroller, and tied it to his wrist. "Now you can hold it, and feel the wind pulling it, but it can't blow away." But Brad didn't like that either, and picked irritably at the string with his small fingers, trying to loosen it as we walked along. He soon stopped in frustration and gazed up at me plaintively.

"I want to hold it myself Mommy!" he said, "I want to hold it myself!"

I stood a moment looking down at my boy, deciding what to do. Finally, feeling like a foreteller of the future, I untied the string again and gave it to him, winding it twice around his palm, closing his fingers around it. "Hold on tight." I said.

Brad smiled with pleasure. His small hand clutched the string with the red balloon bobbing around in the air above him for a good five minutes, until a couple of squirrels skittered right across his path and on up a tree. Distracted, Brad's grip loosened, and the wind pulled his treasure from his grasp.

I remember forever his long, drawn out wail of woe as he watched his balloon soar upward, upward, upward, and out of sight.

Lynn Sunday lives and writes in Half Moon Bay. Her essays have recently appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul's Think Positive, Passing it On 2011: Lay Practitioners Share Dharma Wisdom, and in Tiny Light's Twentieth Flash in the Pan.

Twenty-fourth Flash

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