Story: The Hot Air Balloon – 16/09/19

See this giant hot air balloon? my darling asked of me. It’s all yours for the morning, he smiled.

Me? What about us? I queried. He wanted me to enjoy myself wholly and without distraction.

But darling, you are not by any means a distraction, why, you are my star attraction.

He blushed deep crimson now, rarely was he used to receiving compliments, mainly playful little cute insults which he knew were full of love and meant nothing of which others would use them as.

Run along now, he urged me, run along and have some fun, enjoy yourself. I’d never been in a hot air balloon before. I had always come up with some excuse: too expensive, I would have to awaken too early, it would be too cold, what if the weather turned dreary? And other some such, or whatnot, excuses which masked the true reason: a fear of flying.

I’ll be right here, he reassured me, pointing to the grassy knoll by the evergreen trees. I’ll be reading and researching, it’s important I do so, but I’ll be watching out for you.” He reached forth, pulled me into his grasp, placed his lips full upon mine, passionately. Surprised at his action, I withdrew slightly, then warmed to his embrace. I melted into him because it was rare we expressed ourselves physically.

Thank you, my love, for thinking of me, I said and reluctantly extracted myself from his grasp.

The hot air balloon operator was incredibly kind. He could see I was tremble profusely, that my hands could barely hold onto the edge of the basket which held us as we ascended into the perfectly blue sky, tinged with coloured clouds that twinkled with differing shades in our eyes.

It’s okay, he said reassuringly. First trip in the air? he inquired with a warm smile.

First trip in the air in anything, I replied, I’ve not even been in a plane. What got me the most was the noise as we rose, I was frightened but I knew there was nothing to be afraid of. Balloon accidents were very rare, and this operator seemed to know his methods and flying to a tee. I glanced down at my love, he was reading on his phone, making notes in a pad to his right, his mind set upon certain equations and problematic formulas all of his own. I called to him, waving and attempting a false smile. He looked up, delighted that I was enjoying myself and fervently waved back.

Then, something seemed wrong, there was more strength from the flames which allowed us to rise, we were on an errant path, rocking from side to side. With horror I looked up and realised that the lower flames from the burner had extended far past where they were meant to be and were situated up near the exit hole of the balloon, exposing the likely flammable material to excessive heat, now what could I do? I was too high in the air to jump, but above it showed that we were going to fall anyway, what could I do but scream for my love, to tell him how I felt once more, before I might become gone, gone, gone, away my life would go, crushed or flown away.

I shrieked for him to hear above the burners that scolded the air for listening on its firm intent on destruction, I stared at his bowed head and willed him to raise it, to captured my attentions, but I could smell the acrid scent now, a certain plastic-like melting odour in the air, then a rapid whoosh, and away we dropped, into a group of sharp, gnarled bushes.

I heard him scream my name in the background of the silence which was the result of our inevitable, heard him breaking through the bracken of the bushes, clawing to see if I was alive, for himself. The operator and I were shocked beyond belief, he now was shaking, his hands trembling, telling me over and over,

This has never happened before, this has never happened under my attentions, it has never happened before.

My love finally reached us, I was not damaged, but I was frightened beyond repair.

Oh, my sweet, how did this happen on my watch, my choice, I’m so glad you are here, alive, I will never leave you again, remain by my side. I am so sorry, for this stupid, idiotic choice, in leaving you in there without me. I am glad this operator was there to guide the balloon down somewhat safely.

After helping out myself and the man from the wreckage, my love and I walked away from the scene which never would cease to amaze me. So thankful I am that he was there keeping watch, but never again shall I ride into the air, no matter within what contraption, not even under another expert’s watch.

© 2019 Alice Well Art, Lauren M. Hancock also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved.


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