One Pink Balloon

Just one pink balloon could lead to a whole world of possibilities.

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1. 1 Pink Balloon

The park was abuzz with the squeals and shouts of a Sunday afternoon. It seemed as though all of the children in the city were here today, running and laughing and tugging smiling guardians behind. I was one of the ones being dragged.

“Please, Hale.” Lily pleaded, her eyes wide and impossible to deny. “Just this once.” She reasoned, although of course it would never be just this once but it didn’t matter, the sun was too bright and the cares too far away for me to argue with her.

“Okay, but you can’t tell mum.” I warned, though, like the protests I always made, this was really just for show, she would tell mum, she always did, and mum would go on about how it would spoil her dinner, all the while with a huge smile on her face.

Lily grinned and ran off towards the little cart that stood just down the path, her hand wrapped round my wrist pulling me with her. This cart was a new one, a bright and pleasant change from the old truck that had been here since I had pulled our mother along behind me when I was Lily’s age. The Ice cream truck driver had left town a few weeks ago after his wife had left him and with two weeks of the spot being empty Lily had gotten impatient. She was only small but she could easily eat a whole container of ice cream to herself in one sitting, not that we ever let her.

“What would you like?” The stall holder asked. He was a lot younger than the spot’s last tenant and was probably only twenty or so, not much older than me.

“Two cones please.” I told him, handing the correct change as he filled the cones with his other hand. The tower of ice cream that he’d just sculpted into an elegant swirl looked almost as if it was going to topple over as he handed it to Lily. She took it gently but before she could lick it he brought out a chocolate flake from behind him with a flourish and smoothed into the melting mound.

“A present for you malady.” He smiled and bowed a deep curtsy, causing Lily to giggle and blush. I couldn’t help smiling myself, this would be the highlight of Lily’s week, and I could already hear her gushing to mum when we got home. The blush didn’t disappear much as she dug into her ice cream, her cheeks still pink as they bulged with the creamy delight.

“And for you.” I turned to see him holding my cone along with a bright pink balloon, one of the many that floated above the stall. He was certainly somewhat of a charmer.

“Thank you.” I beamed at him, my cheeks turning the same shade as Lily’s. “Is this stall all yours?” I asked, looking around to try and avoid his gaze which was still fixed on me.

He looked down at his apron, wiping his hands on it before turning his gaze to the park around us. “Yeah, I used to love it here as a kid and when the truck left I couldn’t let the park go without it’s ice cream, so I just thought, why not?”

“Wow, so you really only just started then?” I was surprised, he seemed to know exactly what he was doing, and I couldn’t believe that this was his first week on the job.

“Yah huh,”

“That’s amazing, so what’s with the balloons? “ I motioned upwards to the pink sphere that was bobbing above my head.

“No those…” He leant slightly on the counter that stood between us “…are a very clever ploy to get pretty girls like you two to come and talk to me” he smiled at me and as I returned it I could feel the blush in my cheeks reddening again. Lily grinned wildly, half of her ice cream smeared around her lips.

His smile shifted slightly as a look of disappointment crossed his face. “I do apologise ladies but it seems I have a customer to attend to.” He flashed a quick grin at me before he turned to the family that was approaching the stall. “How may I help you?”

“Come on Hale, I wanna go on the swings.” Lily tugged me gently away toward the playground, her ice cream already finished while mine was still melting in my hand. I ran with her, careful not to tip my cone. When I looked back from where we had come, the boy with the balloons was serving the family, but his focus was elsewhere as he scanned the park. He passed all of the skaters and the families picnicking on the grass until his eyes met mine.

I didn’t even realise I was waving until he raised his hand in return.

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