"You got me a bike!" She exclaimed, smiling. She was a young girl in her pre-teens with short, messy brown hair and blue eyes. Her clothes were composed of a comfortable pair of jeans and a red t-shirt.
"You wanted one." An easy smile, a shrug. The man was tall with a waif-like body and wide blue-gray eyes. His long blonde hair was in a ponytail, thick and lush.
"It's a fifteen speeder! With shocks! And it's Blue!" She blubbered, not really caring if she sounded like a two-year-old again. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
"Want to go test it out?"
"Sure dad." She went to get a parka and sneakers.
Smiling to himself, he wandered over to where he had left his bike.
They made it to the pedestrian pass between side streets without incident.
"Wanna go first?" He offered.
As soon as the pass was clear of pedestrians, he nudged his bike forward, propelling himself downhill. Somehow, he managed to land in someone's pond on the other side of the fence, scaring the flashy red and white fish. People laughed without offering him a hand. Unaware that they were laughing at him, he laughed with them. The girl refrained from glaring at the vultures; doing so would only confuse her dad.
As he exited, he apologized to the fish.
A couple days later, they were having lunch at a doughnut shop. The girl had reluctantly allowed it, her dad was not acting very there since the pond incident.
Still, they had their meals (or sugar specimens) and left the shop. He had become increasingly agitated, talking faster and faster until she could barely understand him. His thoughts were jumpy enough, but the speed at which he described them made them sound like another language altogether.
"You okay?" She asked as they made their way to the van. Even on his worst days he could drive, on good days he could be mistaken for a professional.
"Sorry, I just have so much energy." He explained, confused. Without looking, he inserted the keys into the van's keyhole and unlocked the doors to let the girl in. He started to enter the van but was distracted by a raucous call. He turned, accidentally catching his sleeve on something, making it rip. "Seth?"
Seth turned out to be her dad's identical twin, though he seemed more focused. By tugging at his twin's arms, Seth unbalanced her father. Her dad tripped, sending both parts to the ground, Seth on the bottom. They did not stay that way for Seth quickly switched their positions, pinning him down, a show of dominance. "I have you at my mercy now."
Even as he whimpered because of the pressure Seth was applying to his windpipe, her dad did not fight back. Fighting over anything was against his nature. "Seth, please."
"Let my dad go!" The girl commanded, loosening her seatbelt. Nobody hurt her dad while she was there without getting some type of retribution.
"Carolyn, stay there." Her dad managed.
A woman walked over to where they were, gave them an odd look and jumped into the blue car parked beside them. "You okay?" She asked, rolling down the window.
"Just fine ma'am."
Forgetting the entire incident, she drove away. Since Seth was distracted by the woman's activities, he let go of his twin and therefore allowed the other man to escape. Indeed, her dad was very fast when he wanted to be. He got into the car without further incident.Seth managed to keep the door open though by blocking it with his foot.
"Seth!" A woman's voice called sharply.
"That's my keeper." Seth told them regretfully. "I'll be in town, Alec." He retracted his foot; permitting the door to close.
The girl and her dad drove off.
They were at her school the next day, talking in the soccer field. The field had a forest on three sides, the fourth was an open view of the school. Since it was Sunday, there was nobody there.
"So what do you think about god?" Carolyn asked.
"I'm not from around here." He answered, thinking that it was an adequate answer.
"Where are you from then?" She asked, used to her dad's mental floozies.
"I don't know." He admitted.
She blinked. "How did you get here?"
"With those baskets?" She asked, awed.
"No, with these." He held out a black bag. Inside it was a collection of small party balloons complete with white string. "One day, I was playing with one of these at the edge of the woods. When I stepped into them, the world changed."
She was even more amazed at the three sentences one after the other. "Let's try it."
He blinked and handed her a balloon. It was a deep, sparkly blue. "Kinda like you." He smiled.
She grinned. "Sweet." She inflated it. When he did nothing, she gestured at the bag. "Get one out, silly."
"Okay." He pulled out a green, inflating it. Holding the string almost reverently, he became mesmerized by the balloons drifting in the wind.
"So how did this go?"
"Well, I inflated it." He started, walking to the tree line. She followed. "Then I tripped. The next thing I knew, I was in someone's backyard."
They tried stepping into the forest without trying to stumble, though he was such a klutz one expected him to. Amazingly enough, he did not. They then tried with the stumble. Nothing happened.
Finally, he wandered over to the other end of the clearing. His balloon bounced along after him cheerfully. Then he tripped, pulling the balloon down with him. It burst, impaling itself on some piece of wood. Amazingly, he did not hurt himself. 'I guess it doesn't like green.' He thought, getting to his feet. He continued on his way.
A few minutes later, Carolyn's balloon was gutted by a sharp branch on a nearby tree. Sighing, she looked for the man.
He was at the other side of the clearing, a bright pink balloon bobbing cheerfully on its string which was anchored to his left hand. He was not alone. Seth had joined him, a navy blue balloon attached to his right hand. They joined hands, the ones without balloons, and walked into the woods.
The light around then seemed to shift, showing two small boys, then one boy, and then nothing at all.
Carolyn collected the busted balloons. It would not be a good thing to litter.
"My name's Jessie. What are you doing?" Seth's keeper joined her. Up close, Carolyn could see that she would usually be considered a young, professional-looking woman. She looked less professional at the moment with her casual clothes (a jacket, blue jeans and hiking boots) and her flyaway hair. The shell-shocked look in her eyes did not help.
"Littering is bad." Carolyn replied.
Seeing that there was no way to reply to that, the keeper changed the subject. "I didn't really believe him." She admitted, still staring at the spot where her charge had disappeared. "Neither did the people who committed him to the psychiatric ward. He's been on various medications for years until he managed to convince me to let him out on a supervised vacation."
The girl thought that explained her own father's behavior. He mentioned something to her once, on one of his distracted days, that he felt like he was being tranquilized. "Some type of deflection." He had said before going off into a world of his own where butterflies were life and moss was a carnivore. He did that a lot. "Makes sense."
"If I ever tell my superior the truth, I'll be medicated too." The keeper continued, not hearing Carolyn's soft-spoken words.
"Then don't." The girl advised.
"But then I'd lose my job." Jessie complained.
Satisfied with her cleaning, the girl laid down on the grassy area beside Jessie.
"Who was the other man, Seth's twin?" Jessie asked after a brief period of silence.
"Alec Amon." The girl replied, wondering why the woman could not simply be quiet. The sky was so beautiful. She could almost see two balloons floating by the sun, two mini rainbow-shaped ones, composed of pure light.
"What's your name? You're so calm."
"Carolyn Amon." She smiled.
"Was he your father?" The helper asked, horrified.
"He is." She agreed.
"Aren't you upset that he's gone?" Jessie was stunned.
"He did not belong here." Carolyn said simply, thinking of the past.
"And I thought that you were the realist."
She smiled as the two balloons became one beam of light, joining seamlessly like a smile. "I am."