A story

A little air balloon floats across the sky. Its passenger doesn’t seem bothered by the strong winds which occasionally toss the balloon in a random direction. I’m not sure I would be bothered if I were in a cosy balloon like that. I lie down on the grass. It’s quite dry despite the bleak weather that has tortured the area the past week. The wind is incredibly strong and my hair gets tossed back and forth across my face. It’s hard to see the little balloon like that. Never mind, it seemed to be doing all right anyway. I drift into dreamland. I’m on a boat facing a fearsome storm. I’m the courageous captain. “The wind will die down soon”, I shout. The men hold on to anything available to prevent them falling off the ship. I stand on the deck without a worry in the world. The wind suddenly dies down and turns into the tiniest breeze. Out of nowhere I feel a hand grab hold of my shoulder. I wake with a start.

The sun dazzles me as I try to find my bearings. I must have been asleep for a while as the wind has completely died down. I look up at the blue sky to find the balloon, but can’t see it anywhere. I whip around when I hear the cough behind me. In front of me stands a very odd looking boy. He looks barely over 10 years old. The boy looks at me with curious quizzical eyes. “Why do you like being a sea captain?” he asks. “I like any adventure,” I answer. “What makes you think I like being a sea captain?” The boy smiles and says, “I heard you shouting.” I blush at the thought of having dreamed out loud. “What’s your name?” I ask, trying to divert the conversation. The boy doesn’t answer the question, but rather asks one of his own: “so you like adventure?” I do, I think, but I’m not sure. Are adults supposed to like adventures? “I like dreaming about adventures,” I finally say. It’s my turn to ask a question: “what are you doing out here on your own?” With clear amusement in his voice the boy replies, “I’m on an adventure, just like you.” This doesn’t really feel like an adventure to me, as my apartment is barely half an hour walk away. “So you live in the village then?” I conclude. The boy looks behind him at his balloon. “No,” he says, “a bit further than that.” I’m curious what the balloon is all about. “Are you here often?” I ask. The boy nods his head.

I hear my tummy growl. “Well,” I say, “best not be late for dinner. See you another time maybe?” The boy nods his head and darts towards the balloon. I’m slightly confused at what just happened and wonder whether this is not simply an extension of my dream. I’m waiting to wake up, because this definitely feels like a dream. I gaze at the balloon as it rises in the air. I don’t wake up though. I head home and decide to check the news for missing boys, just to be sure. No one matching his description turns up. Maybe I had been dreaming after all. I stumble through the apartment looking for something to eat. I keep the house as tidy as I can bear, but I’m not as organised when it comes to food. I find a few biscuits in the cupboard and remind myself I should go shopping soon. My mind wanders off as I nibble. I imagined life quite differently as a little girl. I dreamed of wild adventures and travelling to far-away lands. I pour myself a cup of tea and grab a book to read. It’s well past midnight by the time I actually go to bed.

I grumble as my alarm wakes me up at seven o’clock in the morning. I forgot to turn it off the night before. I don’t like early mornings, but decide to get up anyway. I hop in the shower and get dressed, ready for some breakfast in town. The fresh pastries are delicious. After breakfast, I get some groceries and on my way home I notice a sign outside one of the bookshops. “Shopkeeper needed, urgent!” I want to open the door to go inside, but it’s locked. That’s odd, I think, the bookshop isn’t usually shut this time of day. I jot the number on the sign down in a little notebook. Back home, I call the number. The lady who owns the store has trouble walking and the girl who assisted here left town for a new job. She’s looking for someone more mature than me, so no luck there. Never mind, there will be something out there somewhere.

I notice the book I was reading is still in the sofa. A golden glint catches my eye. I pick the book up and a most curious object falls out. As I reach for it, the object emits a red glow. “Am I dreaming again?” I ask myself out loud. I hesitate, then try to pick it up. “Auwtch!” I yell and drop the object again. It’s really hot. I move a few steps away from it and the glow disappears. I grab a tea-towel from the kitchen to move the object, protecting my hands. It’s quite pretty. I put it down on the coffee table in the lounge and study it intently. I smile as I feel the excitement building up inside me. The object looks like a cone shaped spiral with a small rod inside. The rod has strange inscriptions on it. It’s like something from a science fiction book. I wonder how it ended up being in my apartment. Did I pick it up somewhere without realising? It’s small enough that it could have gotten stuck in my clothes. Then I think of the strange boy. I would like to visit him again soon.

I’m fascinated and excited by what happened yesterday and would like to find out all I can about the golden swirl. Unfortunately, there are more pressing matters at hand. My parents promised to visit me this weekend, so some last minute tidying is required. After a few hours of scrubbing, I remind myself to call my parents. “Hi mum! No mum, I haven’t found anything yet. Yes mum I’m doing everything I can. Please don’t go on about it during your visit. Thanks mum, see you tomorrow.” It’s a lie really. I’m not doing everything I can. I don’t want just any job. I want to find something that I will really enjoy. But that’s kind of doing everything I can isn’t it? I’m doing everything I can to find a job I will really enjoy. I take my second shower of the day and that concludes the physical activities, except for pressing the start button on the microwave. I do love lasagne. I feel drowsy after a few hours of reading on the sofa and drift into a dreamless sleep.

It’s the middle of the night when I wake up. I sit up, put my book on the table and am half way on my feet when I notice the gold swirl on the table is emitting a bright blue light. I stare at it, not quite sure whether I should be alarmed or simply intrigued. It doesn’t seem to be doing anything else than emitting light. I let my hand hover closely to the swirl. The colour changes to a vivid purple. I feel heat radiating from the golden object. I shake my head, confused. How on earth did I come by this. I don’t want any questions about this when my parents come to visit though. I pick up the towel I used previously, use it to protect my hands and end up putting the swirl in the only vase in my apartment. I remove the plastic flowers before I put the swirl inside. When the colour the object seems to be emitting changes to blue again, I deem it safe to put the flowers back in the vase. I shake my head again. I don’t understand how a cool thing like that could happen to me. I feel a smile appear on my face. Time to go to bed now. I wouldn’t want mum to have bags under my eyes as a subject to talk about.

My alarm wakes me at nine. Now this is a civilised time to get up. I wonder whether I could do a job that doesn’t force me to get up at a particular time. I have plenty of time before my parents arrive so I take all the time in the world to have breakfast. A few minutes before my parents arrive, they’re very strict in time so it’s easy to know when to expect them, I glance around the apartment. It’s a sight my mum would be proud of. I scowl at the sight. It’s too tidy for my liking, but I comfort myself with the thought that it won’t stay this way. Not two, but four people enter my apartment. “What an unexpected surprise,” I exclaim when I see Peter, my brother, and Sam, his girlfriend. “Are you sure you’re at the right place?” I like teasing him. Sam and Peter seem very excited and cling to each other like flies to a jam jar. Sam is positively beaming. She has her hand on her tummy and that can only mean one thing. My eyes give a look of understanding. Then I dart over to my brother and whisper “planned?” I can barely make out how he shakes his head. “Happy?” I ask as a follow-up. A grin spreads across his face as he turns to me and says “yeah”.

Stories are exchanged about everybody’s lives. Peter and Sam don’t visit often so they speak longest. Then Peter asks me what I’ve been up to. I shrug and mutter “the usual”. Peter has a painful look on his face. “What do you do for fun?” he asks. I think about the boy and his words that held the promise of adventure. I desperately crave a bit of adventure. “Nothing really,” I eventually say. That leaves the room very quiet for a moment. The rest of the afternoon slides by with Peter and Sam telling jokes, mum complimenting my cleaning skills and dad giving job hunting advice. When everyone is about to leave Peter says casually “you can always come stay with us for a few days if you like.” I’m very happy with that suggestion. “I’ll pick you up next Friday. You up for a weekend of fun?” I nodded. They leave after exchanging a few more hugs and kisses. Later that night I find myself crying on the sofa. I feel so lonely.

I’m still drowsy when I hear a knock at the door. I’m not sure whether it’s not part of a dream. The second knock confirms there is someone at the door. I hear the concierge’s voice. “Miss Redford, I have a package for you. Are you able to answer the door?” he asks with a slightly raised voice. Maybe he thinks I’m in the bathroom. My eyes sting. It’s nearly 10 o’clock in the morning. I must have fallen asleep on the sofa. “I’m coming,” I croak. Before I open the door I splash some water in my face and tidy myself up as much I can in 10 seconds. The concierge is standing at the door with a rather large package. “It’s much too large to fit in your mailbox, so I decided to bring it up personally, rather than to leave it in the hallway for anyone to take” “That’s very nice of you, thank you”

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