Fiction 2015

The balloon of a child

By: Robert Knepper

Past the reach of his arm, past the twenty-two foot light, past the red oak trees, past the office building towering beyond the cul-de-sac, past the clouds—he sees the balloon, his balloon, leave the domain of human existence with leisured poise, and for the first time in his life feels Loss dig its razor into his chest with no hesitation. Cold tears leak down his cheek, a physical release signifying his inability to decipher these chemical impulses new to his three-year-old mind. It is a moment of ironic beauty, to see a young child both lose a thin piece of plastic encaging helium, and gain a new sentiment of depletion as it floats into the silver linings above—loss and discovery, simultaneously. It is curious why an object of no worth could stir such emotion in a person; humbling, to imagine the innocence we once possessed, unaware of sadness; and tragic, considering this moment is akin to the first time one meets a person that, unknown to them in the present, will soon become a dear friend.