Response to this week’s prompt on Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction.
Everyone told him it was the wrong time of year for balloon rides, that he ought to wait till autumn and charge twenty dollars for a tethered float at the county fair.
July was too hot, they said, and though the balloon was visible above the corn field, the sign itself was hard to see, obscured by stalks that soared higher every day, so it was unlikely anyone would find him.
But here was this girl, young, with a spark in her eye that should have made him uneasy, if he wasn’t so occupied feeling smug that he’d actually attracted a paying customer.
She handed him one hundred dollars and said to keep the change, which seemed generous until she told him, “Getting ready to leave is like pulling a bandage off slow,” as she cut the rope while he was still on the ground and left him below to watch his balloon sail away over the cornfields.
All his maps tumbled into the air and as they drifted down he heard the pop of the champagne cork overhead.