My Life As A Green Balloon, short story by Richard Allen at

My Life As A Green Balloon

Not that I had much time to contemplate this. As I have just alluded, in a short time I left the place I had been in – a solid place with dark walls, lights and windows – through a door and entered a completely different, larger world. Above me was an immensity of brightness. In front of me many people, other huge solid shapes which I felt were probably similar to that which I had just exited, and solid things larger than people, often shiny with windows, which moved at considerable speed, making loud noises. They reminded me a little of the vehicle that had transported us from where we first entered existence. But I had only seen that from the inside. Perhaps it had been like one of these things. I noticed that they seemed to have at least one person inside. Perhaps they were being transported from one place to another just as we had been. Being both very solid and travelling at some considerable speed, they appeared somewhat frightening. Fortunately, they kept themselves away from the people who were around me, including the smaller one who was holding the end of my string. However, there were so many people around me, moving at a fair speed themselves, it seemed impossible that they did not collide with each other. But somehow they managed to avoid each other, though on a couple of occasions I felt myself brush against one of the taller ones and once one of them flicked at me with one of his digits. I felt a sharp jab in my skin, conscious that it was stretched and thin. For an instant, I thought that I might burst, but to my relief nothing happened. I merely leapt sideways and upwards – involuntarily, of course. And the sharp pain quickly subsided. But it reminded me that in my present condition, I was very much more vulnerable to some sudden accident like that which could – probably – end my existence. Unfortunately, I had no idea how resilient my skin was in my present condition. I knew that before I had been expanded that I was remarkably flexible and largely impervious to movement – even to fairly sharp objects. But with all this air inside me, I really couldn’t tell. On the other hand, it seemed that my consciousness about my surroundings continued to increase. I began to be able to tell one person from another. Not just the small ones and the larger ones, but different faces and fabrics with which they covered themselves. I could even hear the noises which they expressed to each other – without understanding their import, naturally. But it was clear that they communicated…and sometimes at some length. I even noticed some of them appearing to enter one of the solid moving vehicles, which then set off with a roaring noise away into what seemed like a stream of similar vehicles, and away out of sight. I wondered whether I might end up being pulled into one of these strange things. I felt it might feel odd travelling in something like that, but more pleasant, being able to experience the nature of the world I was passing through, whereas previously it had happened in complete darkness. We had been proceeding in this way for a while, when something quite unexpected occurred. Another person evidently bumped into the small person who was holding my string, causing the string to slip from its grasp. For a brief moment, I rose sharply, then gently into the air, then I descended slowly towards the ground. As I moved downwards, I was even more conscious of the number of people all around. It was also becoming evident I was getting quite close to the thoroughfare where the machines moved speedily along. I bounced off a couple of people during my descent, but none appeared interested in regaining control of my string. I thought I could hear high-pitched howling noises from the direction where I had been, but I was now so hemmed about by people, I was unable to see anything.
I landed on the ground. It was hard and covered in what my perception told me was dirt, dust and a certain amount of rubbish, some of which smelt unpleasantly. I found myself in the thoroughfare used by the fast-moving vehicles, but right at one side, close to the area where the people who walked made their way about. Though my situation was far from welcome – or safe, for that matter – it could probably have been worse. I could not be sure, but I felt that unless a person trod hard on me deliberately, my skin seemed to have sufficient flexibility and the breath inside me appeared to make me sufficiently buoyant to prevent me being burst, certainly by accident. Similarly, it seemed to me that the fast-moving vehicles appeared to create some sort of advance momentum, which seemed to swish me away from them if they raced past too close to me. Of course, in such a perilous situation, I had little time to reflect. But equally, there was nothing I could do about my present circumstances. Indeed, it was a familiar story. From the moment I’d first entered into existence…or, at least, consciousness of my existence….I had not been in control of my life. So why should I expect ever to arrive at such a point? It seemed to me that I was destined to a passive role in life, being done to, rather than doing. I would go where someone or something else willed. I could do nothing to guarantee my survival….or even what might happen to me next. In any case, almost immediately, one of the large vehicles drove past, extremely close to me and quite fast, sending me several inches in the air and a couple of feet along the road. I was not sure at that moment whether coming to terms with my apparent purpose in life was immensely comforting. Almost instantly, a foot tapped at me, sending me back in the opposite direction – but fortunately up against the kerb, rather than further into the middle of the road. A small person then stepped off the road and kicked me again – but in the opposite direction. I can’t say that being kicked was particularly pleasant, but the initial discomfort rapidly eased. Indeed, I was more concerned to stay away from the large vehicles racing past, as they seemed considerably more hazardous to my existence. A larger person evidently attempted to kick me in some complicated manner as it seemed to leap from one leg to the other, twist round and then, in attempting to tap me, fall over on to the pavement. I was surprised that the ground didn’t shudder more as he landed. But I had no time to reflect further as an enormous vehicle came past driving sufficiently fast to send me several feet up into the air and at least ten feet down the street. For a few moments I could feel what being a free spirit might be like as I whirled through the empty air, but landing again close to the gutter, I realised just how close I had been to my existence being terminated. Perhaps the risk of sudden ending of my existence was the price I would have to pay for such moments of exhilaration? Various vehicles came past, swirling me along the road and several people of varying heights kicked out at me. Some missed, some didn’t. A couple sent me dangerously closer to the centre of the road, but whether it was the wind or whether these large vehicles – which had a space roughly my size between them and the ground, apart from their wheels – sent some sort of current of air in front of them, I escaped going under their wheels or being impaled on the side of the vehicle.
Then a huge vehicle came along, swept me up into the air and deposited me right across the pavement, in a shop doorway. Almost immediately, a small person grabbed hold of my string and pulled me aloft. Was it the same small person who had let me go in the first place? I thought not. At any rate, the small person conversed with some larger ones.

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