Her boots left ghostly tracks on the frost covered grass. The stars above her head were crisp, close enough to touch. To the east, the inky darkness paled in a hint of the coming sunrise.
Activity surrounded her in the open field. Men yelled to each other while arranging bloated fabric across the grass. Gas tanks roared spouting fire as great balloons began to swell with hot air.
She peered up at the sea of colored nylon until she finally spotted a pale gold expanse covered with streaks of color. She walked to the man standing in the basket and staring up in concentration while his ground crew checked ropes.
"Good morning!" she called. She waited for him to acknowledge her. She shifted the canister in her hands as the seconds ticked away.
"Good morning," she tried again, a little louder.
The man turned to look at her. A wide grin creased his youthful face. "Hey! I didn't hear you. It's noisy next to the tank."
She walked closer. "I'm a little early."
"Better early than late," he replied cheerily, his eyes reflecting the lights
"Sit and enjoy the show!"
She nodded, stepping back. She found a spot a few yards away and watched as the rainbow filled the sky. Her gloved fingers ran over the smooth tin of the canister. She tried not to think of its contents and the fact that it held hopes and dreams
She shivered in her down coat as the man walked over to her. "You ready?"
He nearly bounced to the balloon, holding open the door of the wicker basket. She stepped inside finding her balance as the basket shifted.
"It's a perfect day," he continued as if trying to fill her silence. "No wind, cold." He smiled at her. On another day, she might have smiled back and enjoyed the appreciative warmth of those blue eyes.
"Did anyone else book a tour today?"
"Nope," he said cheerfully. "It's just the two of us." He grinned again. She
sighed inwardly and wondered if she'd even been that young.
"We'll start off heading east over the hill."
She nodded again. She had booked this balloonist for that precise reason. The basket moved beneath her as the man turned the flame higher. The ground crew scrambled to untie ropes that
slithered around the ground like thick snakes until finally they fell in a
They rose with the sun. She stood pressed against the basket clutching the edge with her free hand. They drifted higher, further. Around her, other balloons began to join them in the sky. For a moment, they all clung together like a bouquet and then
one by one they began to drift apart.
She closed her eyes and let the wind numb her cheeks.
"We're coming up on the hills," the man called above the sound of creaking wicker and hissing tanks.
She opened her eyes and looked into the distance.
A sapphire lake glittered in the early morning sun. She knew how cold that water was even on a hot day. She could feel it sliding silky soft against her skin. She could feel hands grab her ankles and pull her under until their bodies entwined, laughing, kissing, surfacing with
Beyond the lake was a small wood. She could smell the scent of evergreen hanging heavy in the air. Knowing she was being foolish, her eyes searched for the tree that held an aged carving encased in a heart.
With a sad sigh,she opened the canister. Leaning over the edge, she let the wind tear the gray dust from its interior.
"What the hell are you doing?" The man grabbed her arm. "You can't spread ashes without a permit!"
"Don't worry. It's not human." She watched a tiny piece of paper flick out of the
canister, the gilt "M" charred. "It was just a lie."
It's been a while but one of my Resolutions is to link up more often to the Write on Edge prompts. This week was a song and a picture. While the song doesn't really make itself known, the picture of balloons rising into the sun sparked an idea for this little piece of one-off fiction.
14 hours ago