Claire was in her backyard, eating chocolate cake off of a small paper plate emblazoned with monster trucks. She was about halfway finished with her piece, although she had already licked the frosting off the little toy truck that had sat on top. Her friends had torn through their own cake, although they did not have little toy trucks to go with it.
Claire was momentarily distracted from the noise and excitement (and cake) by a red balloon tied to the fence that was twisting slightly in the wind. In the minor, unsteady breeze, the balloon dipped and bounced unpredictably. Claire started swaying with it, her head following the odd movements and then seemingly predicting them. She felt somehow weightless, being buffeted by even the slight breeze.
Then a strong gust blew threw the yard, knocking over empty cups and plates and forcing Claire to hold onto the bench below her to keep from being swept away. But while adults scrambled after errant table settings and children pretended to be pushed around like reporters in a hurricane, Claire never took her eyes off that red balloon.
When the balloon suddenly came loose from the railing, Claire felt herself, too, floating into the sky. She felt herself leaving the party behind, leaving her friends behind, leaving her life behind, so that she could float above the clouds. She danced on the wind and bathed in the Sun’s light, warm and glowing, content.
And then the balloon disappeared from her sight and she was back on the ground and there were games to play, and cake to eat, and presents to open.