Monday, January 30

‘I Love You’

It’s strange, because what I’m about to describe might seem too conveniently poetic, an imagination of mine, wrangled out the depths of my inner romance for the sake of prose; I assure you, it is true. Why, I was getting ready for bed the other night and an acute misery was over everything. It is not my fault, the misery, but I was surely alone and feeling every ounce of it, close to tears and staring upon the street as though it could, by its foggy light and freezing dew, offer some compensation against the solitude. It was another night in which I had not written or painted, but fingered my sex in anticipation of something momentary but mildly exciting.
When one looks upon a familiar neighbourhood in its midnight stillness, any small movement is keenly focused on, as though it could be a source of amusement or some trifle. Perhaps it will be interesting, or otherwise. And so it was I saw a brief bobbing of an object… Down there in the darkness, abstractly diagonal to the streetlight, was something moving up and down as though it were performing oral sex upon the asphalt. It was red and textured, wrinkled, catching the dim streetlight magnificently.
It was a balloon.
The last time I saw a balloon was on my niece’s birthday when her great-aunt bought her a balloon and for days – until it deflated – she carried it around with her, not letting go, pudgy fingers gripped tightly.
The balloon was red. A brilliant red. How many brilliant red balloons do you see a day, a week, a month? Unless it is the month of February, then one is not likely to see a red balloon at all. It struck me. The helium in it was obviously all but gone because it hung only a foot or two above the ground, and swung unsteadily in the breeze. I regarded the balloon as though I had never seen one before, how wonderful it was to me! At its base hung a matching red ribbon and the ribbon was twisted and crippled from where it had been seized eagerly and then finally released. Now it appeared discarded and was pleasantly floating around my neighbourhood as if it were such a good place for a homeless balloon to be. The ribbon was dragged around as the balloon toyed in the breeze, washing this way and that.
I went to bed late – after the balloon – and had to be up early, before everyone else. Usually when I walk to work there is a small crowd moving in the same direction as I, but at that hour there was no one. Even the corner-shop was closed. Would you believe it but I had not gone three hundred yards from my front door when what should I see before me but the balloon from before! It was on the main road now, cautiously coaxed by the air or some other force to the side, but there it bobbed and hung just a couple of feet above the ground, as before. I was so happy to see it! I smiled to myself. The skin was indeed wrinkled from where it had been inflated and how it had shrunk. Now, close to it, in fact right next to it, I was able to see that on the red balloon were some words and that I could read them. They said—‘I Love You.’ And the first letter of each word was capitalised, because each word was important and each depended on the other to be important. ‘I Love You.’ Taken apart the words mean almost nothing. I paused and looked at the balloon and I was smiling from ear to ear, and the balloon was smiling back at me and nodding in time to some silent tune. I thought it was perfect.
Just then a figure appeared to my right, out of the darkness, and shocked me; a young man with his hood drawn. I corrected myself and carried on walking in the opposite direction. For at least the second time in its life the balloon was abandoned. ‘I Love You.’

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