Pomegranate Balloons

(originally published in Full of Crow: Microw)

Holly is eating pomegranates and just won’t stop!  The seeds are filling up her mouth and her cheeks keep expanding, like those of a squirrel.  Not stopping!  Her cheeks now look like balloons as they fill up, the juice dribbling down her chin.  Slowly she begins to rise off of the ground, as these cheeks become full-fledged balloons, about 23 inches in diameter.  One of the balloons takes on a hue of green, and the other is turning into a reddish pink color.  She is now 87 feet in the air, just floating along with the breeze.  There are other people in the air too, with just-acquired balloon faces.  Hundreds of them.  There are so many of them that they often bounce gently and playfully off of each other.  She doesn’t seem to mind, feeling quite content to be drifting along up in the sky.  There are men, women, children, even dogs, cats, and cows, all floating with big balloon faces.  Some drift in through the windows of nearby villas, insinuating themselves into the furniture patterns of the inhabitants, becoming balloon chairs and balloon couches.  Through a great force of will, Holly re-anchors herself to the ground to prepare for the evening’s formalities.

The Junior Prom was just hours away and Holly writhed around on the inflatable balloon furniture, anticipating a romantic evening.  She was on her favorite red chair, which she always inhabited when she needed to be alone with her innermost thoughts.  Feelings of guilt and lust flowed through her as she thought of the upcoming night.  Suddenly, a jewelry pin fell off her garment and popped the inflatable red chair on which she was strewn, causing it to deflate noisily.  Holly was able to seal it eventually, the air that was left forming it into a small, round, red balloon, which contained her deepest feelings.  She grasped unsuccessfully as it flew fleetingly into the air, and out the window.

That night, Holly felt inert and lifeless throughout the Junior Prom, and was relieved when it was over.  Holly’s father Lawrence had insisted that she attend church after the prom, to remove any sinful dirt, and she did so.  Holly had looked to Lawrence early for guidance in life, after her mother had been killed in a bizarre boating accident involving balloon fish, but Lawrence, who was participating in unnamed missions for the government, declared that his surveillance work dominated all of his free time, leaving Holly on her own to discover secrets of life from her friends and balloon furniture instruction manuals.  Looking for a pick-me-up after the prom, Holly found some pomegranates and chewed them quickly, soon returning to the air as a balloon person.  After two hours of drifting, she found her red balloon, and reached for it.

Two men in black suits walked under the colorful pomegranate balloon people.  “I feel an idea coming on, and it is exciting me,” said one of the men.  He had clocks and watches attached to himself (19 on one arm, 13 on the other), and numerous pocket watches in his vest.  They were standing next to a store, and he ran in quickly to look at the clock on the wall, then ran back out.  “My idea, Lawrence,” he continued, “is to tie dark plastic leashes to these people in the sky and use them as surveillance equipment.”  “Oh I see,” said Lawrence, “have them hovering outside the windows of enemies of the state, gathering evidence of nefarious schemes and plans!”  The two men decided to slather themselves with pomegranate juice (“to understand the essence of the phenomena, Lawrence”) and lay down in the park to stare at the sky and the balloon people inhabiting it, hatching a plan.  They eventually fell asleep, but woke up two hours later.  The balloon people were gone.  As the two men walked back to the office, a red balloon drifted past.  Lawrence aimed his gun and missed.