The story of the 10 red balloons


Last night the little museum shop I work at put on a special night for our customers with wine and fancy finger food and real live music and helium balloons smothering the ceiling. It was crazy, hectic busy and my head and my feet were so sore after a nine hour stint. Once the people had gone and our doors were closed it was time for me to venture homeward.

I took ten red helium balloons with me
because I knew I must,
that they were too bright to be left to deflate alone in the night.

As I raced for my train,
my ten balloons trailed behind me -
fluttering with my hair.
Lots of people stared; bewildered,
and some smiled.

I waited on the underground platform
for my train with my
red balloons bobbing
with the gush of wind as each train passed.
I felt joy tickle my tired toes.
I felt my headache easing.

I climbed onto the train
and tried earnestly to squeeze
myself into a corner without knocking
a young man reading a book
with the balloons.
It didn't really help -
He got knocked around often,
And I felt those balloons had a mind
(and sense of humour) of their own.

Stepping out into the night -
I saw the familiar air and scapes of my neighbourhood;
steps and road and trees,
the crowds outside the falafel shop,
the neon glow of a grocery store on top of the hill,
cicadas gentling buzzing,
the mewing of tortoise shell cat,
and the quiet of a half-hidden park -
Only this time I had a host of floating red friends with me.

I decided to skip home instead of walk.

I hoped they might have stayed up through the night;
but when I woke this morning they were gently resting on the floor; in the state you see above.

But in my memory
they are still bobbing with cheerful abandon
on a crowded metropolitan train platform -
to the puzzled faces of adults,
and children's squeals of delight.