The Air Up There
It was made in China. Forged of mylar, a compound of polyethylene terephthalate and assorted dyes and chemicals. Meant to make a bright day brighter, it was not made with love, hate or any thought at all. It was a million of a million, hastily pushed out of a DuPont facility and out into the world.
It found itself contained in a box, crammed with 75 of its brethren. Not left to die but trusted to persevere. It waited for its day to come. It’s not aware of the future that’s waiting for it. Perhaps it’ll be for a little girl, to honor her special day. Her uncle will bat it around the living room for a few minutes before it’s displaced in a dark corner where it’ll be doomed to shrivel and die. A sad fate, but what better purpose could it have?
The day finally came where it saw the light. A mother, overworked and overdressed, waltzed into the Dollar Tree with a mission. Everything else was in order, with bags and packages strapped to her arms. The worker grabbed and and put it to the machine. Suddenly, everything changed.
A rush of air came blasting through it, stretching its body to capacity like something out of a cartoon. Suddenly, it felt different, unlike any way it’s felt before. It felt untethered and free, rising up above the earth. It was excited about the new fate that’s been bestowed upon it and it bobbed back and forth accordingly. But then, a string was tied to its bottom, a solemn reminder that it would never be truly free. Still, it had a new lease on life. If only it could free itself from the mother, it could be limitless. If only.
The street was dusty and noisy as a train screeched above. The mother was having a hard time grasping everything in her arms and a sudden noise jolted her. Suddenly, our hero started to drift away. Up, towards the wooden tracks. It brushed the splintered wood and struggled for a brief moment. But it bobbed and bobbed until it got all the way through.
Then, there was nothing but air. It soared quickly and directly, as if it were on a mission. Higher and higher and higher it went. But hardly a soul seemed to notice. Not the vaping guy in the knockoff Oakleys. Not the annoyed woman with a cane. A whole platform of straphangers ignored the liberated flying object. All except one guy, who watched the whole struggle and tried to snap a picture.
He wanted to immortalize it’s journey because it would never remember. But by the time he got the camera to focus, it was just a dot. A speckle of dust, a minor imperfection in an otherwise perfect blue sky. By then, it was well on its way to Manhattan, on its way to see Central Park and the other environs. Nobody knows how far it will go. It could cross the border to Canada, on its last breath and then quickly rescued by free health care. It could eventually deflate and land in a backyard, doomed to be chewed up by a local dog. It could even go to space. Maybe. Who knows? That’s the mystery of life.
And within a second, it was out of sight. The man refocused his attention on how stupid the vaper looked. The train came, and everyone hurriedly got on, ready to start their day. If you look closely, you could see the strings attached to their backs as they are a prisoner of routine. Unless fate lets go of the string, they’ll never know the air up there.
And down below, a distressed mother went back into the Dollar Tree to buy another balloon.