The Red Balloon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: October 07, 2016

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Submitted: October 07, 2016



Couldn’t get comfortable, and I was turning over in bed for the umpteenth time, and even though the fan was aimed directly at me, I still felt like I was in purgatory on the way to hell.

The phone rang, and I glanced at the clock on the table next to me, and couldn’t believe it was 7:00 A.M., on Saturday no less, and thought it wouldn’t be my mother since I just saw her last night and came home with two huge shopping bags filled with gefilte fish, chopped liver like only my mother makes, kasha, durma, and, of course, great chicken noodle soup with tons of kreplach.

So, to find out who was calling me at this untimely hour on a day of rest, I picked up the receiver to hear my buddy Dudi say, “It’s a great day, what do ya say we go down to the beach before the out-of-towners and tourists, and ride the waves; and, maybe I’ll get Sarah to come along and we’ll both get lucky in the water. What’d you say?”

Well, since I was already up, and it was too hot to sleep anyway, I told Dudi I’d meet him downstairs in ten minutes.

“Great,” Dudi said, “and hurry up.” And before I had a chance to shower and shave, Dudi was on the line again. “Good news,” he said. “Sarah has a friend, real nice, and promised she’d spend the day with her at the pool, and told me it would be okay for us to tag along. Guess Sarah needs a lift to Kfar Shmariyahu ‘cause it’s a long walk otherwise. But who cares, we’ll spend a day swimming in a pool rather than getting sand in our jockstraps.”

I thought a second or two and told Dudi to go ahead without me. I’d catch up with him later. I didn’t feel like going uptown to someone’s house I didn’t know. Hear some girl I didn’t know tell me about her Daddy’s success and listen to everyone else trying to sound clever, bullshit each other, top the previous story, force fake smiles and be real phonies. No, not for me, and I passed.

So Dudi went his way and I went mine right down to the beach. While soaking up the sun I knew there must be a God ‘cause all those great young bodies could only have been made in Heaven but then again if there is a God, how could He be so unfair to some of those uglies trying to stuff themselves into those two piece bathing suits. You could only wonder if they looked in a mirror before leaving the house.

Well, I guess we all see what we want to see, and as I’m checking out the beauties passing by, I spot this girl in her early twenties selling balloons and looking the other way. She was wearing blue jeans, a white T shirt hanging out, sneakers, and her hair was dark about shoulder length. I couldn’t see her face but I thought she was the girl I met a few months before. The one I really dug who laughed a lot, told great stories and mentioned in passing that she sold balloons at the beach. Funny isn’t it, I mean strange funny, how someone tells you something, just mentions it, and it stays with you. It’s really strange ‘cause I never saw her sell balloons and I only knew her for one night.

When I called her later on for a date, she told me she was getting married. I almost fell off the chair. You wouldn’t believe it. I knew the guy and he’s a real loser. I mean, you wouldn’t want your worst enemy being with this guy, no less touching him. Sleeping with him would be next to a death sentence. Anyway, he was her choice, and she, Miss Wonderful, was marrying the loser. It’s really hard for me to figure out how it happens, that two complete opposites ever get together, and then miracle of miracles, get married. I guess when one of them realizes what everyone else knows, and finally figures out by themselves, comes the divorce.

But here I am, thinking about Miss Wonderful, yes, Mrs. Married Wonderful, and while walking towards her she turns and I realize it’s someone else holding the balloons. Standing in front of her I see this kid about 6 years old staring at the balloons. He reminded me of myself when my father used to take me to the beach every Saturday in the summer to dunk in the waves, build sand castles and, play in the sand. On the way home my father would always buy me a red balloon. He was a great guy and a great father and as I stood alone becoming lonely thinking of Mrs. Wonderful, my father, and myself as a child, I decided to buy the kid a balloon like my father used to do for me. I picked out a big red balloon like I did when I was like this kid and while giving the string of the balloon to the kid to hold, the string slipped out of my hand, and the balloon rose to the sky. As I looked up I saw one of the clouds formed into a faint image of my father’s face and my eyes filled up with water. The tears began rolling down my face, and I felt like a jerk standing there crying and while doing so a small hand tapped me on my leg. There was this little kid with short blond hair and big blue eyes looking up at me and he said, “Don’t cry, mister, it’s only a balloon.”


© Copyright 2018 Lenny Lowengrub. All rights reserved.

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