Our Balloon

May 27, 2008
By Rucha Desai, Holmdel, NJ

I could still remember it as clear as a clear crystal vase. The salty sea air blowing through my golden hair, now of which was snow white and almost gone. Our house nestled right near the bay of our small town, not too far from Big City. I reminisced times of long ago, where Ma would tell me stories of her childhood, and then Granmma’s times. My older sister, Louise, and I would search for seashells along the coastline, chasing crabs and seagulls until the day was dark, smiling under the stars as we watched Papa come home from a long day’s work at the mill.

I sat on my moonlit porch and watched the stars blink in the sky. Papa used to say that they played hide and seek with the clouds. I poured myself a cup of tea and pondered of what times were like then. School was only a mere thought for me and Louise. We never got to learn because Ma said we didn’t have enough money. Papa said we were already very bright, and didn’t need school. I remembered the first time we went to Big City- me and Louise. The finest shops for cloth, food, and especially dolls were there. Ma even told me that there were some dolls that even came from China, and they were made from a cloth that only princesses wore- silk. And then I remembered the greatest day of my life, the day I saw the balloon.

A door opened behind me and I saw Louise’s face on the porch steps. I saw her tired face, and she blinked at me knowingly,

“You can’t stop thinking, huh, sis?”

I responded with nothing but a deep inhale and said,

“No, no, just having a cup of tea.” Yet she still responded,

“I can’t believe you when you say that. Times have passed, dear.”
I put my cup down gently, my eyes filling up with tears as I looked at her.

“I just can’t seem to forget them, Louise. They were such a big part of me…” A tear trickled down my cheek as I thought of that same day. It was sunny, yes I remembered, sunny and the sky an azure blue. Ma was packing lunch in our old picnic basket and Papa was saddling the horses and buckling up the carriage. We soon headed out to Big City. There, a fair was held and that’s where I saw it. Papa’s Balloon. It was a bright red hot air balloon. I turned around and saw Papa’s face, his eyes glinting with joy as he said,

“It’s ours for the day. I won the tickets at work. Come on now, let’s go have some fun.”

That day did end up to be the best day of all. We went on the balloon. Louise was terrified of heights, but she still came on anyway. Ma was so very giddy that whenever I looked at her as we sailed in the sky, her eyes were like two crescent moons and she always seemed to laugh. I loved flying on that balloon. Empty pastures and trees passes by as we gazed out into the panorama of sights and sounds. The world seemed so small and I felt so big. Papa came up to me and lifted me up in his loving arms and whispered in my ear,

“Even though we both know that no one can live forever, my dear, sweet girl…
you should always keep me and Ma in your heart. Always know that you will be Papa’s little Charlotte… always…”

I couldn’t help but think of Ma and Papa at this very moment. Even after all of these years have passed us by, I felt as if they were standing right next to me. I hated to watch them leave me and Louise. Ma with her cheerful spirit, yet always reprimanding us for the silly things we did. And Papa with his burly, muscular arms and his kind and loving nature. Their memories will live on in my heart, for I will always know that I am Papa’s little Charlotte.

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