Hot Air

October 17, 2009
By , Short Hills, NJ
When Hilyer Grant was six years old, he thought it would be a good idea to hijack a hot-air balloon. No matter how many times people ask him about it, Hilyer can’t clearly remember mounting the grassy hill at the Grant family reunion. At its crest was the balloon, with its sturdy basket and bright colors. Hilyer must have glanced around sheepishly before hoisting himself up over the side of the basket. His legs, still padded with baby fat, somehow managed to get over the sides. He does not recall landing with a soft thud, nor does he remember knowing how to achieve the greatest dream of man, flight.

What Hilyer does remember is lifting up and up, higher than he ever thought it was possible to be. He remembers drifting along at bottom of the sky as his entire extended family noticed his absence. The hysterical, panicked scream of his mother penetrates the dull dust of the years. He still feels the rush of the wind against his chubby, freckled cheeks. I think it is a sensation he will remember for as long as he lives.

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