• The English Translator

Martha and the Red Balloon

Updated: Mar 26


I've been taking part in another session of writing prompts, again 15 minutes and just writing straight off the cuff. The theme of this piece is 'being attracted to something colourful'. Here is my first effort.


The red balloon seemed to float along the top of the wall, never quite touching, just bouncing along in a jaunty way. Robert watched it as it moved. Fascinated by its rhythm, he started to jiggle up and down in time with it. Soon, his pushchair started to inch forward, closer, closer, ever closer to the step. Martha couldn’t see him. She was busy folding washing. Taking each item carefully from the line and being as neat as her 8-year-old self could be.


Suddenly the red balloon was joined by a purple one. The two started a dance that mesmerised Robert. He stopped wriggling and silently looked to see what the balloons would do next. Up and down they went. Sometimes together, sometimes apart, sometimes seeming to want to break free. Robert started jiggling again. Wanting to reach out to them. The bright colours pulled him nearer.


Martha still hadn’t turned around, so intent was she on making a good job, she failed to see as Robert’s pushchair teetered on the top of the step. Robert’s last thought before hitting the ground was how he could almost have touched the balloon.


When Martha saw all the red, she screamed, rushing forward to hold the limp body of her tiny brother close to her. Shivering with fear and apprehension, she lifted Robert out of his pushchair and held him tight. So much red, so bright, so sticky. Robert could no longer see the balloon, all he saw in front of him was Martha’s face, red from the excitement. Raising his hand, he touched her face his small fingers making a brilliant splash of colour on her skin. Red upon red. It puzzled him. Where had this red come from? From the balloon? From Martha herself? He looked around and noticed two tiny red and purple dots floating high up in the sky. No more bobbing balloons on the wall now. Only bright flashes of colour, white, blue, green and the ever-present red. Exhausted he lay back against Martha’s chest and gently closed his eyes.


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