the balloons by Charlene Kwiatkowski

the balloons

We let them go on the count of three like we did in high school when we threw our blue graduation
caps in the air, except these ones didn’t come back down. And the only thing blue was the sky they
flew home to. Some jumped the gun and took off early. Some were a little slow getting off the
ground – took an extra upward push and a slight lift from the wind to carry them like the others.
Some stuck together and others travelled solo. Some took off okay but headed for the trees and are
still there if you drive Glover Road and look northwest when passing the big yellow building in Fort
Langley. Some kept going and going and going until their redness was a diluted pupil in the autumn
sky, and that’s what we wanted for you. For you to keep on going and going and going. Together.
From this day forward. Because what you have defies the laws of gravity and helium. And we do
these wedding rituals and attach your picture on a string and write encouraging and maybe repetitive
words to a future you because you need to know two hundred balloons in the air is not a photo op.
It’s a metaphor. And I think it was Northrop Frye who said the best language is metaphor. Well
maybe I’m making that up but it’s not important if that’s fact or not, what’s important is that it’s
true. Whether or not a stranger finds these messages and mails them to you weeks, maybe months
later doesn’t really matter even though that’d be nice and it might help remind you. What matters is
we let them go so you could see yourselves better by looking at something the same and yet
something so absolutely, completely other.

Charlene Kwiatkowski recently finished her Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Victoria and is now pursuing Creative Writing. She blogs about urban art and spaces here.