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The Purple Balloon

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Balloon

It's times like these that make me wish I could just run away and never look back. I want to scream but I can only cry internally from all the stress my family causes me. My father and stepmother always go at each other like a couple of lions fighting over a piece of meat. There is no peace and sometimes I wish I could just crawl into a hole and never come out again. I desperately pray to God that every day would get a little better but it never does. Nothing ever gets better.

The only thing I look forward to anymore is sleep. The constant oppression and neglect from my stepmother only increases with every passing day. Sometimes I can’t help but lie in bed and wonder if my family or friends would ever miss me if I went away. Would people cry or just move on? The only love I remember feeling was from my father but lately things have taken a turn for the worse. The fights have gotten more violent and there were days I would find him crying, praying for a miracle to happen.

As it grew dark out I realized I’d been sitting in my room listening to them for several hours. I couldn’t hear them arguing anymore. The damned grating noise of the clock above me only contributed to my frustration. That eerie silence heightened my anxiety until I couldn’t take anymore. I got to the door and before I could get to the doorknob it swung open. It was my dad beaten, broken, and bruised. I gazed up at his tired face as I slowly walked towards him. Then and there I decided enough was enough and lost all rational though as I grabbed his hand.

I gathered my strength and pushed my way past my stepmother. The rage plastered on her face made me panic as I tugged my father to his car. I got him into the passenger’s side and scooted over to the driver’s side.

I frantically locked the doors as I looked for my father’s car keys. I could hear my stepmother growl words as she cursed out my name. “ALEXA!” She yelled out in a hoarse voice.

My only thought was to get my father away from here as fast as I could. I panicked as I struggled to find the keys in the little light I had. A sudden loud bang on the driver’s side window sent me into a state of shock as my eyes snapped back to it. I screamed in terror as my mother slammed the baseball bat against the window again. This must have been enough to finally snap my father out of his haze. He suddenly grabbed me and shoved me out of the seat. He had grabbed his keys from the glove compartment and started the car before speeding off, leaving a trail of smoke and skid marks behind us.

My panic only heightened as we flew down the road. I pleaded with him to slow down but he only sped up more. I could feel the car start to spin out of control. The sudden thrashing shook both of us violently before I heard glass shattering. The seat belt that had kept me secured broke and suddenly the world went black.

I felt so isolated. The cold hard ground beneath me sent goose bumps along my skin as my eyes snapped open. I was gripped with a sudden strong pain as I sat up. My head was pounding from the hard landing. I tried to steady myself and realized that all I could hear was the hollow sound of the car alarm. There wasn’t any other noise. Even the cool breeze that touched my skin was silent. I slowly brought myself to my feet as I looked around. Something was wrong.

“Dad?!” I called out but there was no answer.

I hollered out again, still no answer. I started to scream over and over again in my dismay only to hear silence, to such an extent that my throat began to hurt. I had to stop before I not only lost my father but my voice as well. I was worn out and I couldn’t stop rubbing my eyes. The more I did the more the light around me started to fade into darkness. I felt uneasy as I opened my eyes. I was suddenly blinded by a single spotlight and everything around me seemed to fade away. I could hear a faint jingling sound echo around me that was followed by laughter. I could feel my anxiety welling up again as I called out, hoping it was my father.

“H-hello? Dad?” I waited several minutes for a reply but none came. It only seemed to confirm my worst fear. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end as an overwhelming presence seemed to appear behind me. I turned around quickly and there in colors of blue, magenta, and teal stood a towering jester. The jester carried a mischievous lazy demeanor. He looked bored and quickly took notice that I was standing there. He didn’t say a word. The only sound was the faint jingling of the bell tied to the ends of his blue hair.

I couldn’t break my gaze away from him. His flamboyantly vibrant features brought out so much life and made him stand out that much more. The jester came closer to me with a grin that I wasn’t sure I could trust. I didn't understand where he came from or how I came to be in his dark oblivion.

Without a word he started to do tricks that would awe anyone. One of which made a purple balloon with a smiley face mystically appear in his hand. He looked to me again with a smile as he offered it to me. I didn’t take it from him. I didn’t know where he came from much less what he was. I drew back slightly as my thoughts returned to my father. I had to find him. I didn’t have time for this.

I turned quickly to move away but he was there in front of me again. He looked disappointed and shook his head as he offered me the purple balloon again. I couldn’t stand the eerie silence that lingered between us.

“Who are you?” I asked after gathering my courage. The jester still didn’t say anything but pulled out a deck of cards. I asked him again and this time he pulled out a card with a letter on it. It started to dance around him and with every following question he would pull another card. I glared at the cards and spelled out the name he presented to me.

“Candy Pop?” I asked. The only response he gave me was his wide grin. I don’t know why but each time he smirked it sent chills down my spine. I could feel something was wrong even if I didn’t know what it was. He started doing tricks again and this time he made the purple balloon disappear. I watched as he made a blue lollipop appear then another and another until he held three of them. I wasn’t sure what to say or do so I only watched in silence.

He took my hand and placed the lollipops in my palm and closed his hand around mine. Once again he made that same purple balloon reappear and backed away slightly. He crouched with his back to me and all I could hear was the sound of plastic being stretched quite a bit. When he turned around he held a flower shaped balloon. Candy Pop’s smile was sweet and kind as he offered me the balloon again. I wasn’t sure why he was so persistent for me to take a balloon. Maybe he really was just trying to befriend me? After a moment I finally decided to accept the balloon. I examined it before gazing up at Candy Pop. His expression had change from that kind sweet one to something sinister. I quickly backed away and hugged the balloon to my chest tightly.

I started to panic as my body began to levitate off the ground higher and higher. I couldn’t stop myself from floating further into the light above.

“W-what is this!?” I whimpered as I realized I couldn’t take my hands off the balloon. It felt like it had attached itself to my skin. The light above me grew brighter until all I could see was Candy Pop waving goodbye to me. I could see his shadow now and it sent a cold chill over me. The shadow showed devilish looking horns and a tail. When I tried to look at his face again it was distorted. Multiple whispers surrounded me and I felt my head spinning. I closed my eyes tightly wishing that whatever was happening would stop.

“Alexa! Alexa! Wake up! ALEXA!” I could hear my father faintly calling out to me. I felt so cold as if I had been dead. I was frightened and embraced myself so hard that I popped the balloon without realizing it. I opened my eyes slowly and the bright light that had been overhead slowly focused into a street light. My father was kneeling next to me checking me over to see if I was alive. Almost immediately I started to cry and tried to hug him. Before I knew it we were at the hospital. The doctor said it was a miracle we both survived it. As much as it hurt, deep down, I was glad that we were both far from my stepmother.

Three months have passed since the accident but I can’t seem to shake the feeling that something is still wrong. I’m happy that we both got away from my stepmother and can start over again. The rain outside of my hospital window has really made this feel like the beginning of something new. I have to hide my surprise though as the doctor enters without knocking. He was probably back to check on my progress. I smile to myself as I watch the doctor’s back. Once he faces me though my smile quickly falls. He was holding something in his hand as he quietly spoke to me.

“You popped the last balloon I gave you. But do not worry, Alexa; I got you a new one.”

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