The Red Balloon
A small girl skipped along the side walk, her pink tails bouncing. Her laughter was drowned in the sea of talking adults. Of business suits, the clattering of suede shoes, the ringing of mobiles, the dishes clattering in the local cafe, the doors slamming and the engines from the seemingly endless traffic.
The girl's father held her tiny hand as tightly as he could in case she slipped away. In the girls other hand was a bright red balloon that bumped into everyone who passed by.
The helium filled balloon bumped into the street light and somehow got trapped. The black string weaved it's was out of the child's tiny fingers. The girl paused briefly before stumbling as her father pulled her along. So innocent. Yet unaware.
The red balloon was seen out of the corner of a woman's eye. The light shown onto the balloon and the woman made her way blindly across the street with her toddler who was looking at everything and at anything but at what was in front of him.
Letting go of the toddler's hand and pushing him lightly onto the pavement, the woman turned to retrieve the balloon. In the same moment the girl's father noticed the missing balloon and his daughter's misery. The toddler turned and made his way back onto the road for a toy that he had dropped. So innocent. Yet oblivious.
It was at that moment that a light blue van turned the corner – and almost toppled over as two of the tires left the ground for a terrifying moment – and headed towards the toddler.
The man slammed on the brakes and swung his steering wheel to the left. The last thing he saw before crashing was the woman's doe like eyes as she froze – her thoughts filled with images of her son. So innocent. Yet scared.
Birds flew away very suddenly and very quickly at the sound of a crash. The street light groaned from the impact. The engine smoked. Cars screeched to a stop to avoid a similar fate. People flooded onto the road to try and get to the woman.
A cafe owner lead the toddler to a table and gave him ice cream to try and sooth him. The toddler continued to look around – still completely oblivious – as he repeated over and over again: "Where's mama? I want mama!"
The manager of a pharmacy ushered some of her employees out with first aid kits as she – and many others – phoned for an ambulance.
The van driver stumbled out of his now useless van and sank to his knees. He no longer cared that he now had a head injury as he stared at the lifeless woman surrounded by blood. His quiet sobs haunted the surrounding people. So innocent. Yet despaired.
A father picked up his daughter and carried her away – only now noticing that her balloon was gone. The girl stared at the kind woman who only wanted to help her.
A red balloon was being carried away by the gentle breeze. So innocent. Yet deadly.