Two Balloons

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is for futureauthor's Birthday contest, and I hope it does well, the idea really sends me good waves that it'll do well...enjoy!

Submitted: July 24, 2013

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 24, 2013



I felt like a real bloody mess at that party. It was down by Aunty Jan’s house on Chandler Lake and we invited friends. At times I felt like such a card—I tried talking to some of the relatives and it went along well. I brought myself down because I’d a bloody awful headache. I shame myself at the thought, and regret it. The two presents I did get made the night worthwhile, though.

My little sister Sara and I threw the Frisbee around in the driveway for a while—she wasn’t all too good and threw into the shrubs quite often. She got tired after playing some time (though I think she was annoyed because she knew she threw so bad), and she went down to the lake and I didn’t see her again till we left. So I went round the garage along the flagstones through Auntie’s garden and sat on the front porch. I sat there watching Pa grill the food and then I went around the house and heard chatting voices on the deck. Going up the wood steps I found Clara and Beth sitting at one of the tables. Clara’s eyes flashed behind her glasses when she saw me come up.

“There he is,” said she, loud and surprised.

I stood at the table and my eyes fell upon Beth. “I didn’t think you’d be able to make it,” I said, astounded yet quaintly. I was more than happy to see her.

She smiled. “My mom let me come; she dropped me off some twenty minutes ago,” she said.

“I mustn’t’ve noticed.”

“Clara opened the door when I got here and we’ve been out talking the whole time. I didn’t know where you were, so I waited.”

“That’s all right, I was playing Frisbee with Sara.”

There was a minuscule silence, and Beth said, “Happy Birthday.”

“Thanks,” I said smiling.

“Go get a chair Luke. You shouldn’t just stand there—sit down with us,” said Clara profusely.

“Who all else is here?” I asked Clara as I pulled up a chair.

“Well, I know Ernest and Sam were downstairs playing games, and about half your relatives were down in that parlor, the other half talking a storm upstairs,” she answered.

“Must be all in Uncle Jim’s library.”

“Must be,” she repeated with a grin.

“Is anyone even on the first floor?”

“Only your one cousin with the black hair, sitting in the living room reading—”

“Jayme—she’s real nice. And satiric too,” I smiled.

“She is!” Clara said. Beth smiled.

At length Beth asked me: “How many people did you invite?”

“Four,” I said. “You, Clara, Ernest, and Sam.”

She nodded.

“Everyone else,” I continued, “my mom and my Aunty invited. Some of them aren’t relatives though.”

“Have you been all to your lonesome, then?” Clara asked with uplifted brows.

“Almost the whole time. I said hi to the guys and showed them the games—didn’t say a word more and they didn’t even notice I left,” replied I. “Haven’t even said hi, let alone seen any of the other relatives and guests. They’re all in the house, and quite a few of them I don’t know, or haven’t seen in years to remember them. Some though, I can tell—by the yammering.”

We all chuckled; we could hear voices chatting exuberantly above and below the deck.

Us three talked on for a short time and then Clara left to go inside to get some sweets and to watch the guys play games.

Though I hardly see her much, it’s always great to see Beth. I liked being alone with her, for we would talk for hours on end about ordinary things. Once Clara was inside and closed the sliding doors, I said to Beth, “I’m really glad you could come, I can still hardly believe it.”

She giggled a little and said, “You’re modest. I had to go into this interrogation with my mother, but she finally, after a few hours pondering on the thought, let me go. So you’re really seventeen now?”

“No, my actual birthday’s on Tuesday,” I said (it was Sunday now), “This is just the party.”

“Huh, some party,” she said. “Bet no one besides me wishes you happy birthday.”

“Yea, there isn’t even a cake, only cupcakes.”

“You don’t even like those,” she chuckled.

We heard the front door open and close a few times.

“The food’s ready.” We got up and I opened the sliding door for Beth. She had on shorts and a tee shirt and had nice short hair and eyes that sparkled something wonderful. Her humour was adorable and we got along quite well. No one was on the first floor save Clara and Jayme, who both took to eating and chatting with each other. Beth and I got food and we went back out on the deck. Eating always helped take my headaches away. My eyes didn’t feel like they were going to explode anymore.

We had a time chatting and laughing with our mouth’s half-full. Talking about irregular things, on a summer evening that was beginning to cool, with Beth, and having a very relaxing birthday so far, was all I could really ask for.

When we finished eating and went to the kitchen, there was yelling downstairs and a rapid clatter of footsteps rushed up the stairs and I saw a flash of long hair that was instantly out the front door, up and out the driveway. I heard a car start and furiously drive away.

“Your parents got into a fight, kiddo,” said Jayme in her chair tastelessly. Jayme wasn’t fazed by anything; she was possibly the most nonchalant person I ever knew.

 “Oh golly,” I said spuriously.

“Surprised you couldn’t hear it.” She laughed.

“The people upstairs must’ve drowned it out.”

“Where’s Clara?” asked Beth by my side.

“Downstairs playing them video games with the others,” Jayme said.

I thought for a minute. Beth looked a little uneasy. In the parlor downstairs there was now a slight roll of murmuring. Upstairs there was still the uncanny clamor resounding without cessation. What a bloody party, I thought.

“Would you like to go down to the dock, Beth?” I smiled shyly.

She shrugged with a kindness in her eyes and smile, “Sure.”

I grabbed a clear box of Tom’s brand chocolate chip cookies that Aunty bought for the party.

“Best to stay out of the commotion,” Jayme said after us. “Wish I really had the time and care to get up,” she muttered with a grin.

Walking down the hill, the breeze was picking up a little. The trees grew tall and the leaves were a smooth, shining green under the sunlight. I felt a pang in my head when Jayme said my folks were at it again. Beth and me sat down at the edge of the short dock and took our sandals off under the great big willow tree and dipped our feet in the calm grey water. The willow tree hung over us with its rustling wide spread of leafy, drooping branches—the branches were well above us though.

Beth’s feet swam and she ate the cookies with me, lively at heart as she was. After some time laughing talking together, we were both silent. A moment came and Beth spoke, in a shrinking voice.

“Do your parents usually fight like this?”

“Yea, but normally not during family events. One of them must have snapped beyond ordinary at something bloody pointless.”

“I’m sorry your birthday is like this now,” she said.

“Oh, I don’t mind any.”

She paused for some seconds, and then said reassuringly, “At least you got a load of presents.”

“I haven’t gotten a single one,” I said looking down into the water at my swaying feet.

“What! Not with all these guests your family invited?” Her tone was excited.

“Nothing, Beth, not a thing,” I said, then remembered. “Though my Aunty did get me a balloon and a card with twenty dollars in it.”

“Still, that’s not right for you!” she pleaded.

“The party was basically all theirs anyhow.” I looked at her now: she was turned to me, exasperated in her face and frame, but her eyes still looked lovely and kind.

She opened her mouth to say something, but I started off, somewhat quietly and with a voice full of remorse.

“I can’t stand it, ‘Lizbeth, just can’t. I’m too different for them, like all I am and all I do is always something disagreeable. What was this bloody party for? Aren’t I supposed to be a bloody man now? I’m too different for this world given me. I’m a bloody disgrace. I don’t feel cared by anyone.” I sobbed something childish.

Neither of us said anything for a little while and I watched the ripples in the water by my feet. Then Beth said, “I care.”

I wanted to say something, but silence ensued.

“You’re no disgrace. And of course you’re not right for the world, you don’t belong with it,” Beth, at length, said to me.

I smiled somehow. “It seems I already knew that but always forget it.” I looked up to a blue sky. I went on, “It’s like I’m the balloon I got. The balloon vendor had dozens more, probably, better than that one; and the balloon as me, wants just to fly up and away. But it can’t get anywhere, not bloody anywhere—”

“I would fly with you, if I’m the only other balloon that could,” Beth broke in.

My eyes felt like welling up tears and then I looked at her. She was turned my way still, looking from me to the water then back at me. “I would,” she said, in a happy breath.

I heard a rustle in the bushes, and down came Sam with a smile. Beth and I returned a happy greeting, resuming a casual countenance in our expressions.

“You should come play Donkey Kong with us, Luke.”

“Oh, yea, sure. You want a cookie, Sam?”

He took one and I got my sandals on and stood up. Beth was still at the dock’s end.

“I think I’ll stay and finish off the cookies myself and sit a spell,” said she. I didn’t wish to leave her, but I did it to appease Sam and the others. I glanced back and caught her gaze going up the hill. I went inside with Sam.

I wasn’t any bloody good at that game, but Clara and Ernest were quite good to make up for it. The parlor was loud now in the room next to us. I didn’t wonder at all where my parents were. My sister was watching us play. Donkey Kong was bringing my bloody headache back.

There were steps coming down the stairs softly, and Beth appeared. I gave the controller to Sam, who was waiting his next turn, and I went to her.

“My mom’s here—I wanted to see you before I go,” she said, with a faint touch of sorrow.

After seeing the first floor still only occupied by Jayme, we walked through the garden. She stopped behind the garage, and I stopped too.

“Luke,” she said, her voice nearly hushed.


“I—” She was at a loss for words it seemed.

Then she stepped forward, with a sparkle in her eyes and, of a sudden, kissed me quickly on the lips. She kissed away all my words; she kissed away my headache too.

Smiling, she said after a pause where neither of us could speak, “There,” she breathed happily, “that was the best bloody present I could think of for you.”

My words came back. “You shouldn’t say it like that,” I said with a forgiving smirk.

She giggled, and hugged me, saying good-by.

I walked with her to the car and waved, watching the dust float and sink as the car mounted the hill and drove away.





© Copyright 2018 Liam Strong. All rights reserved.

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