She lay on top of the plastic tablecloth, her heart racing whenever one of the Osborne family members walked close by. The wonderful smell of a freshly baked cake filled the room and there were already four or five presents wrapped neatly at the other end of the table. The balloon stared at the shiny, silver banner positioned perfectly on the wall at the opposite end of the living room with the multicoloured streamers hanging from the ceiling guiding her eyes back towards the table where lay. The beauty of the room was spoiled by the direct view she had of the six white, six blue and six green balloons strategically bordering the edges where the walls met the ceiling.
When the packet she lived in was opened and a small hand reached in, choosing her to be the first to be blown up, the balloon could hardly believe her luck. Unfortunately, however, the small hand was attached to a small body with small lungs and an even smaller mouth meaning that, despite the small person’s best efforts, the balloon eventually ended up being tossed on to the table like an old rag and forgotten about for the rest of the day. The balloon knew enough to suspect that the Osbornes may have been avoiding her because someone had already picked her up, or, perhaps it was her purple skin that kept them away, being that it didn’t match the colours of the other decorations.
The four members of the Osborne family were buzzing from one job to the next, organizing the music for games or putting another round of party food in the oven and being unable to contribute or play her part made the balloon feel more deflated than she already was. At one point, an older Osborne family member picked the balloon up from the table and held her gently in her frail hands for several seconds. Hardly able to contain her excitement, the balloon was sure that her special moment had arrived, only to be placed back down beside a warm dish that smelled of baked potatoes and cheese. With each new decoration that went up, it seemed increasingly less likely that the balloon would be able to contribute anything at all, making her curse the moment she was pulled from the packet first.
After some time, the sound of upbeat songs and children laughing filled the air, though the balloon found it all but impossible to enjoy the moment. People reached over her to get better access to the food, dripping red sauce on her skin as they took the food out of the warm dishes surrounding her. The balloons commitment to remain hopeful eventually paid off when the music was turned down and the guests gathered around the table where she had been sitting for most of the day. She suddenly felt herself being lifted off the table by another older Osborne, who wiped the sauce away with a napkin and started filling her with warm air. The eyes on the guests’ faces lit up when they saw the white stars covering her purple body, filling the balloon with a tremendous sense of belonging and accomplishment. She was careful to avoid the candles as she was passed to a young boy wearing a birthday hat. He smiled at the balloon and turned her away to better read a phrase written in cursive on the outside of her body. “Happy 8th Birthday,” he said.
The lights dimmed, and the crowd started singing the most beautiful song the balloon had ever heard.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
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