Sunday, May 30

So I'm out taking my balloon of destiny for a walk. It might be broken. I don't feel any different today at all. I just have a balloon now.

Twenty children named Charles all swarm around me and start chattering. I know their names are all Charles because they all have nametags on and they keep saying Charles over and over again. I wonder if that's all they can says. And some of them are girls.

"Whoa!" I say. "Whoa!"

"Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles," they all chatter excitedly.

"What's up kids?" I hold my balloon high so they can't get at it. They reach for it like it's some sort of Space Candy they've been waiting for. "Okay, stop. That's weird, and those are my pockets. And one of you just stepped on my cape. Stop. Really."

They don't stop chattering Charles or grabbing at me and kind of gently tugging on my clothes. So I start walking away. But they stick right to me. I have a circle of children around me and I don't know what they want. I start walking faster, but they walk just as fast.

"Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles.harles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles.harles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles.harles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles.harles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles.harles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles.harles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles.harles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles.harles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles." The name Charles has never been more meaningless as it has right now.

I run for it, my balloon bobbing crazily in the wind. I'm a faster runner than these kids, but not by much. I am wearing huge rubber boots. We run down the paved trail of the park, exit the park through the big stone entrance way, then down the street. Twenty children in hot pursuit. I don't think this has ever happened to me before. I turn a corner quickly and run into some bushes in front of a house. I pull the balloon down and hug it close to my chest. I wait.

"Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles." I hear them running, their adorable sneakers beating the pavement, coming closer and closer.

Now they're right in front of the house. They stop, susipicious, but I don't think they see me.

A woman comes out from inside the house. She's wearing a big sun bonnet and gardening gloves. "Oh, Hi Charles!" she calls and waves to the children. They reply with louder calls of their name.

Please keep running, please don't see me in the bush. But they just stand there, looking around intently. I can see them through the bush. I'm still not sure if they see me.

The woman kneels down in front of the bush I'm hiding behind. She starts digging with a small gardening shovel. "Don't worry," she whispers to me. "Just stay real still. They'll be gone soon." And I stay still, and now they're leaving. I realize I hadn't been breathing. Sure feels nice to breathe again. "They're gone," says the woman in the sun bonnet.

"Thanks," I tell her, standing up. I continue holding the balloon close to my chest.

"Yeah, those kids can be kind of... is that what I think it is?" And she points to the balloon.

I don't know whether I should tell her or not. "Nice day, huh?"

"Sure. Is that a balloon of destiny?"

"Um." She's looking at me pretty intensely. Like she might try to take it or something. "No. It's just a regular balloon. Thanks for the help." I start walking away accross her lush green lawn.

"You're not fooling anyone," she calls after me. "You're sure you don't want to stay for some grilled cheese sandwiches?" But I keep walking, balloon clutched tightly.

As I walk people from inside houses open their windows and stare at me. Cars slow down to gawk. Weird, man. Weird.

No comments: