The earth slowly passed beneath their feet, the trees almost tall enough for Jeremy and Angela to reach out and pluck their upper leaves. Jeremy pulled the cord and the blower roared to life causing them to rise again, allowing the couple to gain more perspective on the world. After a long burn the air started to have a slight chill, and the ground began to take on the appearance of a predominately lawn green quilt with asphalt stitching. The red and orange balloon caught the flat sunlight and combined it with the fire within to glow like the fictional phoenix. The irony wasn’t lost on Jeremy.
Jeremy let go of the cord and silence descended to join them as they floated westward. The balloon’s glow faded a bit without the internal fire. That brought a bitter smile to Jeremy’s lips. He decided to let the balloon gently float downward for a bit as the gasses in the balloon’s envelope cooled. He turned his focus to Angela who was peering intently at something in the distance. “So you wanted some private time,” he said. “I can’t get us much more private.”
Angela dropped her gaze to the ground below them. “Is Tim still trailing us?” she asked.
“He’s good and we’re not flying very fast,” Jeremy said. “He’ll be there when we touch down. I can land us now if you want. I just thought…”
Angela turned to face him, her tears cutting off his words. “Not yet,” she practically whispered. Her voice gained some volume. “Please just a little more. I forgot how beautiful it is.” She turned back to stare away from Jeremy.
Jeremy pulled the cord and the balloon climbed again. He took a half step towards Angela, but pulled back. He looked up into the fiery circle of the burner, hoping the heat would evaporate his tears.
Thirty minutes of silence later Jeremy brought the balloon down for a soft landing near the road among the large circular hay bales of a recently harvested field. Jeremy breathed in deep the sweet decaying sent, wanted to memorize the moment. Angela turned to him and with two quick steps was in his personal space, kissing him on the cheek as her tears mixed with his. “I’m sorry,” she said. She wiped away their combined tears before stepping away.
An old Chevy truck drove up along the road and a man stepped out. “How’d you like that darling?” he asked.
Angela rubbed at her face before she climbed out of the basket. “That was great sweetie. Thanks for tailing us,” she said.
Jeremy finished deflating the balloon, the colors becoming drab as it laid down on the ground. “Yeah Tim, thanks,” Jeremy said.
“Let me help you pick this mess up,” Tim said with a touch of mirth in his voice. “You get yourself in the truck darling. I’ve got this.”
Angela shut the door of the truck with a loud staccato note. “Yeah Tim,” Jeremy said. “Yeah, you do.”