Spring Tide: Short Story – 199 Balloons


199 balloons

When I first received the big packet from the fair lady, I was thrilled. I quickly looked inside and saw balloons of different colors. “Keep them! This might come to your help someday”, she said with a soft voice. I turned and looked up at the lady. Her lips were red and rosy and her skin was white and smooth. I smiled kindly at her, as she smiled back. I then thanked her and went on my way. I safely hid the balloons in a small cave below a big rock, where I usually kept my spade and other tools. I would blow the balloons some other time and watch them flying magnificently in the sky, I thought. But I did not figure out, why she gifted me balloons for guiding her to the mountain top. I had never been given gifts for guiding people to the mountain top and I am no kid to be given balloons as a gift, I thought again. After hiding the balloons, I climbed a tree, as usual and looked up at the night sky and started counting the stars and arrived late to home. Surprisingly, I saw grandpa’s bags packed on the floor and it seemed that he was waiting for me seated in the garden chair.

“Saris,” he said joyfully,” We are leaving for Africa immediately! Your uncle, who is ill, wants us to come over there and look after him and the factory.” I was very much surprised hearing what grandpa said. I asked,” What about the cows and the sheep, grandpa? Shall we leave them here?”. My grandpa laughed at my question and spoke,” I have sold the cattle, but the house and the things shall remain. We shall return soon to the mountain home, soon after your uncle gets well.” I knew that I could not speak a word more to what grandpa said. I packed my bags and we were off, but something in me told that I was going to miss the mountains and the cave. Also I completely forgot the packet of balloons, I left inside the cave.

Years flew by and we didn’t return to our hometown, the mountains. This was because we fell into trouble, soon after we arrived at our uncle’s house in Africa. Surprisingly, my uncle was already dead when we reached his house. We talked to the maid and she told that my uncle was in a terrible burden of debt and the money had to be paid back with huge interest. Shortly, many people came to claim the large amount of money, asking us to return their money back. As we had no money to pay back the debt, we sold his factory and the house, suffering a lot by these outcomes. Grandpa and I took up stressful job as miners and we worked all day long in dark mines. Grandpa kept on telling me that he would never sell his mountain house whatever happens, though I insisted him to. Life to us, became terrible as we could afford to eat one square meal a day. We still had some debts to clear and we have no one to help us.

Finally one day, Grandpa decided to sell our mountain house and the plot of farm land with it, as he could no longer see us suffering. I finally came back to my mountain home with grandpa one last time thinking how different it would have been, if I was here all these days, playing and laughing in the sunshine and climbing tall tress to count the stars. “Go and play boy. You have missed these mountains a lot!”, my grandpa said with a half-sad smile. I immediately ran to my secret place- the cave wondering if anything has changed. Reaching the cave, I found my spade and other tools intact. Then I saw the big rock. I moved it and found the packet. Thoughts flooded my mind, as I remembered the lady and the packet of balloons which I left under the rock, a long time back, before I left for Africa. I would blow these balloons for one last time and make them to fly in the sky, I thought. I took one red balloon out of the packet and turned to put it in my mouth to start blowing it, when I found something powdery inside. I poured it down and was amazed to see dust pouring out like flour. It took me few seconds to realize that it was gold dust. I then took out all the balloons counting them and poured all the dust out. There were exactly 199 balloons and all the balloons contained gold dust, certainly the gold dust found in mines. The lady never told me about this, but she had positively said that this packet of balloons would come to help sometime, I thought. I ran home to grandpa and told him about this amazing discovery, but he never believed the story at first. But when I took him to the cave and showed him the balloons and the dust, he was overjoyed and he knew that our trouble days were all over.

We put the dust in a small pouch and had the samples examined later. It was proved to be gold dust and the man who examined it told us that we would turn lucky if we sell this dust and soon to his word, we sold the dust and we became rich. We repaid all my uncle’s debts and we didn’t have to sell the mountain house. We moved back to the mountains and I went back to the job of guiding people to the mountains, which I have always enjoyed. Grandpa bought the cattle again and there was always a smile on his lips, after that. The lady who gave me the packet of balloons never came back, but sometimes I still think of her, when I count the stars. But as for the 199 balloons, I blew them on a cold Sunday morning, seated on a tree branch and was surprised to see them fly magnificently in the bright blue sky…


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