Le Ballon Rouge
Once upon a time in a city called Paris in France, there was a young boy named Michel.
He had been called from the country to live with his grandmother in the city.
Since he was new to the area, he would go shopping with the aged parent so he could at least become familiar with his surroundings. One such morning found them across the street from the butcher's shop. "Wait here, Michel," said the old lady. "I have to cross the street to purchase some meat at the butcher's shop. I'll just be a moment." So, off she went. Michel spent time enjoying the balloons at a vendor's on the corner, and a particular red balloon struck his fancy as it kept moving in his direction. He didn't tag at the balloon's string nor did he pat it. "Hey! You haven't paid for that balloon," the vendor yelled angrily, but Michel had already turned the corner, and not before shouting across to his grandma that he wasn't going far, and that he would be home in plenty of time for lunch. He and his red balloon spent time exploring the neighborhood before returning home to Michel's. The balloon waited dutifully in the courtyard.
After lunch he and his newly found friend completed their exploration, and were passing through a suburb which was readying for construction when a gang of hooligans appeared, throwing stones at the unfinished buildings. Then they noticed the balloon, and began throwing rocks at it also.
Suddenly one of the stones scored a direct hit, and the balloon began to whimper and shrivel until it was laying flat on the pavement. Michel sat, feeling very sad, wondering what he should do next, when the most amazing thing happened. Every balloon from all corners of the city tugged at its restraining string and pulled away up into the sky, and soon there was a HUGE balloon shaped mass high in the heavens with the strings formed into a handle, and the HUGE mass was moving toward HIM! Of course he grabbed it, and in an instant he was carried high above Paris. just narrowly missing the highest point of the Eiffel Tower! He saw the most beautiful sunset, and the view in every direction was spectacular! The balloon mass moved in a wide arc, slowly descending to the plaza outside his house and landing him gently on the ground. There were so many questions... how did the balloons find him and why did individual balloons stick so close?
However, he was so enchanted by the whole experience that he laughed until he cried. When he let go of the handle the balloons began to disentangle themselves and fly back to their original vendors, but there was one big yellow balloon waiting just for him in the courtyard. At least, Michel thought to himself, I shouldn't have any problems finding friends NOW!
Copyright © Keith Bickerstaffe