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Balloon Sky at Night part 1 of 2

Christian Trinity Balloon sunset sky

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#1 Offline SkyLandOceAnna

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Posted Feb 03 2013 - 04:14 AM

Christian Rider recently lost his father to cancer. The loss hit Christian hard. He grew up admiring his father. They spent all of their free time together going fishing, bowling, and playing or watching sports.

 

Now he no longer played or went to the lake. He just slept or sat on the sofa.

 

It had been over a month since his death, but Christian couldn't get over the fact that he had lost his best friend, and that everything in his hometown reminded him of him. So he went to his mother and asked if they would go away for the rest of the summer. She agreed and the next day, they left for his grandma's, who lived one state over in Minnesota.

 

Once settled, Christian went for run around the town, while mom spoke with grandma. He ran for several blocks before he stopped for a breath. The sun was already beginning to set, so he decided to head back.

 

As he turned to track back, he noticed someting blue floating in the sky. With closer observation through squinting and walking towards it, he determined it to be a balloon with what appeared to be some black writing on its sides. It chalked it up to having had blown away from some kid or adult at a birthday party or other celebration. He didn't think it came from around here though, since he could hear no laughter or any other sounds or signs that would signify the fact that a party was occurring.

 

He assumed it probably got caught by the breeze from earlier and blew to this neighborhood and got caught on some telephone wire or tree branch or whatever else that got into its path, luckily without bursting. There was no wind now, so it must've just been released from its prison, and began its upward journey to meet the clouds or get hit by a plane or bird or something.

 

He so wished he could be free like the balloon from all the pain he was feeling, but all he could do was shrug and jog back home. He ate supper, thanked his grandma for letting them come and stay there for awhile, and for the supper she prepared, before retiring to his room to go to sleep.

 

He slept most of the next day until his mom made him get up and have brunch with his grandma and her. Afterwards, he flipped through the channels on the tv for awhile until he landed on a Twins' game. He and his dad used to watch them all the time during the last bit of the school year until summer vacation.

 

His dad grew up here with his mom, dad, and sister, so they were his favorite team. His dad's dad used to take his father to the games until he became an adult, got married, and moved away for a great job opportunity. Soon after, his mother became pregnant with Christian.

 

His father promised to one day take Christian to a Twins' game, but now that wouldn't be happening. Christian became sad remembering his father's words, so he turned off the TV and went to go for another run.

 

After running several blocks like he did the day before, he stopped and stood beneath the shade of a tree. He then watched the sun go down over the lake just across the road, atop the hill overlooking it.

He had noticed the shimmery blue water reflecting the sunlight off the surface of the water and found himself walking towards it. He sat there watching the people walking along the sand of the small lake and saw some kids swimming and splashing water at each other. He listened to the laughter and screams of the children and got lost in the sounds and beauty that was below him.

 

It didn't last long though, as he saw a father chasing his young daughter around, before lifing her high into the air and bringing him back to his chest. Soon memories poured from his head and reached his heart, releasing a single tear, which found its way past the barrier he had put up after his death.

 

As the sun began disappearing, he stood up and began his walk back. When he got back to the street, he noticed another blue balloon floating above the houses across the street. He thought it was just a coincidence, that maybe it too had gotten stuck, or maybe both had been tied to a pole or something, and they were slowly breaking free.

 

He ignored it as he continued home, but after dinner, he went to his room and laid in his bed, unable to fall asleep and staring at the ceiling, because he couldn't ignore it anymore. He thought he could forget about that silly balloon, but his blue walls and the blue shirt his grandma was wearing, didn't help him to do so. He decided he would go back again tomorrow and see that it was nothing more than a mere coincidence.

 

The next morning, while Christian's mother and grandmother were eating breakfast, they saw him appear before them. Their jaws dropped at the fact that he was awake so early and that he had wished them a 'good' morning. He grabbed two pancakes from the stack on the plate and a glass of milk before going back to his room.

 

They didn't understand what caused this change in Christian. Later on in the day, his grandmother got a bigger shock. He asked if she knew where he could find a set of binoculars. She told him that his grandfather had put it in a box that he took to the basement, but that it was such a mess down there, she didn't know where he had put it, or if he'd be able to find.

 

Later she walked by the basement door and heard strange noises. When she opened the door and went down the stairs, she noticed that it was clean. All the boxes were placed on the shelves near the back wall and that they were marked, while the floor appeared to have been swept.

 

She heard a noise to the left and saw Christian carrying the final box over to the shelves. On the desk next to him, were the binoculars. After placing the final box on a shelf, he turned to see his grandma descend the last two stairs with huge eyes staring at him. He explained that it took him awhile to find the box and since he wasn't busy with anything else, he just kept going after he found them. She tried to hold back tears as she went to hug him.

 

She was so happy, she wanted to cook his favorite meal; lemon pepper chicken with mashed potatoes and sweet corn. They both went back upstairs and Christian took a quick shower while his grandma prepared supper. After his shower, Christian threw on a tee and some jeans, grabbed the binoculars, and told his grandma that he would back and that there was something he had to do before supper was done. Her only words were 'okay'.

 

He saw the sun was starting to fade, so he ran until he reached his destination. He brought the binoculars to his face and began searching for a possible balloon drifting in the small breeze this evening. He waited ten minutes, looking through the binoculars at the houses where the balloons could've came from.

 

The sun was close to gone and he knew supper was probably done. He was filled with disappointment, half-hoping the balloons weren't some sort of coincidence, so he put the binoculars arond his neck He then pulled them back off as he saw it; a blue balloon appeared above the trees. He looked through the binoculars at the backs of houses until he saw a figure moving around. He then went over and peered over the bush beside the fence of the figure's backyard.

 

There was a girl about his age with short blonde hair staring up at the balloon. Although he was curious why she was letting off these balloons every night, he quickly shyed away from communicating with her. He turned to leave, but then heard the girl speak. "Hey!"

 

He looked back as she was making the last couple of strides to the fence, so he turned back and walked up to her. "What are you doing?"

 

"Nothing. I was just taking a walk and I noticed your balloon."

 

"So you were watching me?"

 

"No. No. It's just that I've been seeing your balloons for the last couple of nights and I was wondering where they came from is all."

 

"What's your name?"

 

"Christian."

 

"Oh! I am sorry to hear about your dad. Your grandmother was telling me about your father and about you after it happened."

 

"You know my grandmother?"

 

"Yea. I live with my grandma and your grandma comes over a couple times a week to play bridge with my grandma and a few other grandparents in the neighborhood. I join them once in awhile as well when I don't have homework or work to do. She hadn't come for a few weeks and I had heard from my grandma about her losing her son. She came about four days ago to play again and she began telling us about him and about you."

 

"Oh I see."

 

"Yea! My name is Trinity by the way. So...how are you handling it? Have things gotten better for you? "

 

"I don't know. Just one day at a time, I guess."

 

"I know how you feel. I lost my parents seven years ago in a car accident."

 

"Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry!"

 

"Don't worry! It's alright! I mean at first I thought it was the end of the world, but after the first couple of weeks, my grandma gave me an idea to help me get through the pain I was feeling of losing them."

 

"What was that?"

 

"Come on. I'll show you."

 

She opened the latch on the gate and invited him into the backyard. He followed her to the stairs and waited as she went inside. She emerged a few moments later with a bag of balloons, some sort of a tank, and two black markers. She opened the bag and placed it in front of Christian.

 

"Here. Pick one."

 

"What for?"

 

"You'll see. Now pick your favorite one."

 

He stared at her for a moment before reaching into the bag and pulling out a green one. She placed the bag on the porch step and went up to the tank. She filled them up with air and he tied them off.

 

"Okay. Now take this marker and write down everything you want to say to your father. Write until you run out of room. I'll do the same."

 

"I don't think I can do that. I don't even know what to write."

 

"Write anything you want. Tell him how you feel or what's new in your life or how much you miss him. It doesn't matter what you write as long as it comes from the heart."

 

"I guess I'll try."

 

They both sit down on the porch with their balloons between their legs as they write. Christian wrote how much he missed his father and how he was staying with grandma for awhile and that mom was doing well. He wrote until he ran out of room on the balloon. Trinity then told him to stand up and follow her. He followed her to the middle of the backyard, cradling the balloon carefully in his arms.

 

"Alright! Now what?"

 

"Isn't it obvious? You let it go and it'll fly up above the clouds to your father, so he can see what you wrote."

 

She tossed hers up to the air and it began to go higher and higher. She turned to see Christian staring at his balloon still in his hands. She then went over and grabbed one of his hands and held it tight.

 

"It'll be okay. Trust me. This helped me so much when I lost my parents. I was so happy that my grandma had helped me find a way to send messages to my mother and father. She actually works at a party store and that's how we have the helium tank, so when she saw how much I was hurting, she thought this was worth a shot, and I did it. I was still sad, but I felt a huge sense of relief as well. I've been doing it almost every day since and I only use blue balloons because that was their favorite color. You can do this too, okay?"

 

He looked at her for a moment in her hazel eyes and then released the balloon. It rose above them and relief washed over Christian's body. She was right. It felt so good to have written all of it down on that balloon and release it. He watched it until it disappeared and then turned to Trinity and thanked her for giving him the balloon and marker. They talked for a few minutes more until he realized his grandma and mother were waiting for him. She told him he could come back again if he wanted and that she always did it at sunset because she remembered watching the sun go down with her parents on their porch swing with she was younger. He agreed to come back and hurried home; he had much to think about.

 

 


Edited by SkyLandOceAnna, Feb 04 2013 - 11:28 PM.

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Wordsmith <3


#2 Offline Yukiko

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Posted May 17 2013 - 09:08 PM

Official Short Stories Critics Club Charity Review

 

I like the idea you have here (though part of me cries for all the animals that will choke on those balloons), but I would like to know a little bit more about the people that you discuss in this story. 

Christian Rider recently lost his father to cancer. The loss hit Christian hard. He grew up admiring his father. They spent all of their free time together going fishing, bowling, and playing or watching sports.

 

This is written more like newspaper article than a short story.  When you tell the reader the loss "hit Christian hard" it robs him or her of a chance to get into his head.  Why not show how hard it hit him?  Show us all the times he sat silently on the couch, show us the things in his hometown that remind him of his father; show us his mother's frustration at her son's distancing himself.

 

The activities you listed were rather...stereotypical ones for two dudes to do together, but I still think you could make them genuine if you added some individuality to them.  Where did they fish?  What sports did they wash?  Who was better at bowling?  Show us how Christian can't stop flashing back to certain experiences with his father.

 

It chalked it up to having had blown away from some kid or adult at a birthday party or other celebration. He didn't think it came from around here though, since he could hear no laughter or any other sounds or signs that would signify the fact that a party was occurring.

 

Try:

 

 

It must have blown away from some kid or adult at a birthday party or other celebration, but he didn't think that it had come from around where he stood.   He could hear no laughter or any other sounds or signs that would signify that a party was occurring.

 

"The fact that" is a phrase that I would generally avoid in writing.

 

His dad grew up here with his mom, dad, and sister, so they were his favorite team. His dad's dad used to take his father to the games until he became an adult, got married, and moved away for a great job opportunity. Soon after, his mother became pregnant with Christian.

 

I liked the inclusion of a specific memory (Christian's father's love of the Twins), but I would like to see you take it further.  What job did his dad move away for?  Perhaps you could turn the middle sentence into two: one describing the games that his father and grandfather used to go too, and the other describing his father's estrangement from the home of his childhood. 

It didn't last long though, as he saw a father chasing his young daughter around, before lifing her high into the air and bringing him back to his chest. Soon memories poured from his head and reached his heart, releasing a single tear, which found its way past the barrier he had put up after his death.

 

Should be "lifting."  Also, while it is technically possible to cry a single tear it doesn't happen easily.  Try expanding on his thoughts in the brief moment were he breaks for the first time.  It's important enough to warrant more than a few sentences.

 

He thought he could forget about that silly balloon, but his blue walls and the blue shirt his grandma was wearing, didn't help him to do so.

 

Also, you don't need a comma before "didn't."

 

I picture this story taking place in the soporific days of late summer, and I wish I could feel more of that atmosphere.  I would like to see you characters anchored more physically and sensually in their world.  In general, you're writing would benefit from more showing and less telling, but keep writing.  I am curious to see how this story ends.


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#3 Offline SkyLandOceAnna

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Posted Jun 18 2013 - 02:09 AM

Thank you Yukiko for response. I'll try to take some of what you mentioned and use it towards the final draft of the second part of the story. Thank you!


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