A woman stands on a grassy hill one bright summer day. Tulips and daisies dot the hillside and a heart shaped patch of clover runs down one side. A large oak tree grows beside where she is standing, it’s branches stretching out, preparing to hug whoever might step his way. People surround her, each attending to his and her own activities. A cool breeze tosses the woman’s long, dark auburn hair like so much grass. Her brown eyes gaze with wishful intent at the sky. The happy screams of children fall on her deaf ears; her attention is elsewhere.
A young man walks up to her. His fancy watch sparkles in the sun, making specks of light dance on her face. He watches her intently for a moment, his gaze shifting from the the slender figure to the sky. Then he catches sight of what she is looking at.
Against the blue and cloudless sky, a bright green balloon floats hundreds of feet above the ground. Its dotted existence bumbling its way through the heavens, tossing and turning in the wind.
“Excuse me, Miss” Her eyes never move as she replies.
“Why are you staring at that balloon?”
“I want it.” The words are spoken flatly, seemingly without feeling. But behind them, the young man can sense a suppressed passion and a desperate hope.
“Do you really believe you’ll get it?” He already knows what she will say. A wistful sight escapes her cherry lips.
“Not a chance.”
A fresh breeze blows a crumpled newspaper nearby with the headline “Thousands of Iowans Facing Major Flooding” The young man picks it up carefully, smoothing out the wrinkles and folding it neatly. The woman’s gaze – ever wistful – never once moves from the balloon. They stand in silence, young man, and young woman, each watching the green dot bounce through the sky. Each with their own thoughts burning in their heads.
“You can do it.”
The laughter of children, the chatter of birds, the sound of rustling trees, the murmur of conversation- they all fade at the softly spoken words. Her large eyes finally break from the speck in the sky and turn to look at him with questioning surprise.
“You can do it.” He repeats; conviction and confidence colour his words.
“But the balloon is up there. I am down here.” She seems slightly non-plussed, though intrigued by his confidence in her. The man shakes his head adamantly.
“No matter. You CAN do it.”
She continues looking at him, her right eyebrow raised slightly. There is silence for a moment, his dark brown eyes speaking silent messages to her.
Slowly, her gaze turns back to the green speck in the sky. The silence continues, only broken by the sounds of the hubbub around them. She contemplates his words. His voice comes again.
“Set a goal and don’t stop until you reach it.” Her brown eyes suddenly fill with determined passion- a fiery intent and instant determination. And she too, knows.
Then, without explanation, the young man points at the large oak tree. The young woman looks at it and can see- just barely- a silver ribbon hanging down from one of the branches. It tosses its tail in the wind like a wild pony, calling to be caught. She walks over and tugs on it, wondering what is attached to the end.
Without a sound, something pops out of the branches, and bounces up into the sky, only stopping when it reaches the end of the silver ribbon. The woman’s smile bursts from her face, making it glow with happiness.
It is the green balloon.