Balloons (The Entertainer)

It’s present day London. Oxford Street. The rainy, dreary and grey day is reflected back at you in the grey faces of passers-by. You pull your coat more tightly around you to keep some sliver of warmth in your core. You feel cold in your bones.

At the end of the street, dipping in and out of sight is a blob of colour. What is that? You peer through the mist of rain. The colours are shifting in and out of view; red, pink, green, bright and cheery against this backdrop of washed out pavement. It’s balloons, you realise. A great bunch of them, attached to a man dressed in even brighter hues.

Something odd is happening. Balloons seem to be popping into existence within the great bunch, like some kind of absurd balloon parthenogenesis.

POP. A great yellow balloon appeared in the bunch. Pop, POP! Another two red ones join the fray.

People are gathering now, murmuring, laughing. “Good trick,” a young man says to no one.

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The man attached to the balloons – the entertainer – is struggling with the growing bunch. He’s bouncing softly away from the ground like an astronaut on the moon, laughing jovially but glancing skyward with a flicker of trepidation.

A little girl joins the fray, her pink pinafore dotting the scene once more with colour. She reached up, and the entertainer granted her a big red balloon. As he did so, his feet brushed more firmly on the ground.

He smiled broadly and began giving away his rapidly populating balloons. Several onlookers tried to wave him away, embarrassed, but his insistence won them over. Others grabbed their stash and tried to steady the man on his feet.

More and more people left with balloons, some with great clutches, smiling to themselves and taking their dots of colour with them about their day.

Eventually the crowd thinned, and the entertainer bobbed for sometime on the street side, before finally he was swept off his feet as his balloons grew more and more plentiful. He drifted to the clouds, his laugh carrying down to the wind blown streets.

You watch as the man floats away, a speck in the clouds; the at-last emerging sun dappling your vision.  You smile.

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