**Today’s prompt: a hot air balloon ride. Enjoy!**
Balloonfest. My favorite weekend of the year. For three days–well the afternoons and well into the evening–I wandered around, eating delicious food, talking with vendors and operators, and taking at least one ride in a balloon. Two if I could manage it, but reservations were tight. It had been my passion since I was a child, and I still loved it. Someday, I’d save enough for my own balloon. Until then, I would take what I could get.
If I was very lucky, I’d get to go up with an operator I knew, and they’d let me have a turn at flying the thing.
This was the fourth year Liam had come with me. The first time had been our first date, and he’d been terrified of going up. He didn’t like heights. But he’d done it anyway, though he’d been relieved when we finally touched back down. Later, when I asked him why he’d done it when he’d obviously been so scared, he gave me a small, sweet smile.
“Your passion. Man, I’ve never seen anything like that. I wanting to be with you in the air was bigger than wanting to keep my feet on the ground.”
I fell in love with him right then and there. We’d been together ever since.
And he came with me every year, trailing behind me as I chatted and oohed and aahed. He was a quiet sort, my boyfriend. But he was always there for me, lending his support to my passion. I tried to do the same in return, but I wasn’t quite sure I managed it at the same level. He loved me just as hard as I loved him, though, so I figured it worked.
It was the last night, and Liam had surprised me with a reservation for a second balloon ride. I’d already been on one the morning before, but I was excited to go up again. Even more so that Liam was coming with me. I didn’t know who we’d be riding with, but Liam dragged me on with a singular determination As we got closer, I saw Linda and Joe, and my face broke out into a grin. The older couple had been flying at the fest for almost as long as I’d been going, and they were a happy, chatty sort of people that didn’t mind when I peppered them with questions. They were local too, and Linda had taught me everything I knew about flying. She was a master.
I loved their balloon too. It was beautiful. Rainbow colors arced in diamonds across the surface. I dreamed about this balloon.
I walked quicker, and made it to Linda’s side before Liam could catch up. He grinned and stood quietly to the side as I jumped in to help. Within a few minutes, we were in the air.
“You love this balloon, huh?” Liam’s voice was soft, but I was so focused on watching the world fall away from us, the sound made me jump.
I grinned. “Yeah.”
I scoffed, and gave him a wry smile. “I wish.”
Linda’s voice startled me again, and I whirled around to face her. The basket shook a little, but held steady. She was smiling, and Joe stood at her side. He nodded.
I blinked. “What now?”
“Seth, you love this balloon as much as we do,” Linda began as she laid a hand on my arm. “And we’ve decided to retire. We’re taking a cross country trip in the RV. So when we decided to sell, we thought of you first. Liam took us up on it.”
I whipped my head around, and Liam shrugged. “I ran into them on Friday, while you were chatting with Maurice. They asked if I thought you’d want to buy the balloon, take their place, and I made the decision to surprise you.” Liam glanced down, and bit his lip for a second before looking back up at me. “You’re not mad are you?”
“Mad?” I couldn’t breathe. “Are you serious?”
I vaguely registered the confused and concerned looks on their faces, but I had to sit down before I passed out. This was everything I’d ever wanted, and my tiny brain couldn’t process the hugeness of it.
Liam carefully knelt down beside me. “Seth?”
“For real?” I managed to get out. I pressed my hand against my heart. “It’s mine? You…you did this and it’s mine?”
“If you want it.” He still sounded nervous.
I reached out and pulled him toward me, hugging him hard.
“Yes.” I murmured as I kissed him. “Yes yes yes.”
Liam laughed, and held me tight. Joe chuckled, and the sound made me look over. Both he and Linda were looking on with indulgent smiles on their faces.
“Stand up, son. You’re missing the view.” Joe’s gruff voice got lost in the whoosh of the burner.
I did, slowly, but it was hard to take in the gorgeous sight of the night. Tears blurred my vision.
Liam took a step closer, and then murmured in my ear. “Just think, now you can do this whenever you want.”
I took his hand, squeezing it tight, and let the tears fall.