Balloons

This place didn’t used to be this quiet. There were people. Couples walking with interlaced fingers. Families. Little kids who let go of their balloons so they could watch them shrink to the size of nothing, then wanted them back.
I guess I was one of those kids. Maybe I never grew up past that. Maybe that’s why I’m back here again.
I lived my life like that. I let things go and waited until they were out of sight and beyond reach. Then I wanted them back. I regretted my choice and wanted another chance. Another balloon.
But when I did get another, I did the same thing.
Over and over. I never learned. Like those kids with the balloons.
I don’t know what I thought would happen. It’s not as if I thought the sky would bring it back to me. Who ever thought that?
But they do it anyway, don’t they?

It’s so quiet here.
No people. No little kids. Not a single balloon in the sky.
But they have to fall some time, don’t they? They burst and then the sky lets go and they come plummeting back down to earth.
Back to me.
But that’s just a hopeless dream. Before they burst they’re carried far away. Further and further from me and my hands that can’t hold on. That won’t hold on.
Perhaps that’s better. For them to be so far away when they fall. I don’t have to see the shreds that remain of the ruptured thing. I can remember it always as I saw it, floating up and up, into the sky. Never to fall. Never to look back.
At least it’s not hurt that way.

But some night when I can’t sleep I’ll step outside to breathe the moonlight, and they’ll be there.
Strewn about the ground. Caught in the brittle fingers of the trees. Lying in the grass. Tatters of things that I let go. Things I wouldn’t hold onto.
You wanted us back. They’ll say. Here we are. See what you made of us?
Then I’ll shut the door, locking them all out. I’ll deny that it was my fault. Like the guilty child who asks for another balloon, insisting they didn’t let theirs go on purpose.
Why?
Because I’m a coward. That’s why I can’t hold on.

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