Charlie is eight years old at last
|Charlie wandered around the garden, searching for any candy his eagle eyed friends may have overlooked after they had smashed the piñata. His bare toes wiggled in the grass feeling for even just a small chocolate. The party that afternoon had been great; he was eight years old at last, and still couldn’t believe it. The magician chose him to help with magic tricks; that had been so cool.
There were bits of broken blue and white balloons scattered all over the lawn, his dad told him to pick them up or they would get in the lawn mower. Charlie started to gather the scraps of rubber when he saw the red balloon.
“Where did that come from?” Charlie said, chasing it as it tried to escape over the neighbor's fence. He knew it wasn’t from his party as they’d only had blue and white ones. He grasped the red balloon as it bounced across the garden beds, trying at the same time not to squash his mum’s petunias. “Gotcha!” He laughed.
He used to not like the sound of a balloon bursting before he was eight, but now he was older, he didn’t mind the pop and the way it always made him jump out of his skin, even when he knew the bang would happen.
He squeezed the balloon tightly, but it didn’t break, so he dropped it and tried to stand on it, but it remained intact. He looked around for a stick to burst it with, poking until the stick penetrated the skin, but still it refused to go bang.
Charlie picked it up, he turned it over and over to see if it was made of something different but it seemed like an ordinary old red balloon, but simply wouldn’t burst.
He let it go to see what it would do and watched as it flew around the garden. First it landed on the table and bounced across the crumbs left from the party tea; it seemed as if it was enjoying the taste of the delicious sweetness, he saw a splodge of gateau clinging from its neck. Next it rolled in a puddle of spilt lemonade. From there it dropped into the fishpond and seemed to wash itself clean, rolling over and over before trembling to rid itself of the water. Charlie couldn’t understand what was happening, maybe it belonged to the magician from the party, he wondered if perhaps it was magic and he’d left it behind.
Then the red balloon bounced over the grass towards him, even though the wind blew in a different direction, he wished his friends were still here so they could see it. They won’t believe me, he gasped when it flew quickly into Charlie’s arms.
He thought about going inside the house and getting a pin from his Mum’s sewing basket, but decided he didn’t want to bust it anymore. He imagined maybe someone had sent the red balloon to congratulate him on being eight years old. how he loved saying that he was eight
“Thank you for coming to see me,” he said, “you can go now.” Charlie held the balloon up to the sky, and could see the shape of the sun gleaming through the thin rubber. “Goodbye red balloon,” he whispered, and released his hands. The balloon began to rise, up high into the cloudless blue sky. Charlie lay down on the grass and watched as it got smaller and smaller, bobbing around as if it were saying “Bye bye eight-year-old Charlie, thank you for playing with me.” Then the balloon popped and Charlie saw a bright yellow flash from which a white unicorn appeared, and shaking free his iridescent wings he looked down at Charlie and galloped into the sunset. At last Charlie could see it no more, he spread his arms out wide and his fingers touched a square of chocolate. He popped it in his mouth and smiled.