Maybe True, Mostly Metaphor pt II: Impact

(Read Part I: Wonder, here)

First things first. I have a confession to make.

Earlier, I told you that I had chartered a hot air balloon to start my search. Well, that’s not 100% accurate. I know, I know, we’re one chapter into my story and I’ve already broken the cardinal rule of writing — never lie to your readers (but, tell that to literally any person who has ever written an autobiography).

To be fair, I told you at the end of the first chapter that I can’t promise you honesty. Storytellers aren’t always the most trustworthy lot and, truth be told, I’m not exactly a noble man to start with.

But, I’m confessing to you now, dear reader. I didn’t charter the hot air balloon and use it as my vehicle for traveling the world in my lifelong search.

I stole it.

Ok, there, I said it. Phew! Glad that’s off my chest.

I should clarify that I never meant to steal the hot air balloon. It just sort of…happened. Like a misunderstood criminal pleading to his judge, I had the best of intentions.

You’re probably wondering, though, “How on earth did you steal a hot air balloon? That’s absurd.”

Well, first of all, the whole idea of using a hot air balloon to travel the world in search of a lost child’s balloon should’ve tipped you off that this story would be a little…whimsical. But, once you’ve accepted that the absurd is quite within reach, the idea of stealing the hot air balloon seems more believable — relatively.

Still, I’ll admit, stealing a giant balloon the size of a small building does seem a little unusual. It’s not like you can just walk into “Giant Balloons ‘R Us,” grab a hot air balloon off the shelf, and hide it under your shirt as you sneak out of the store, no matter how smooth you are.

Once you hear the story, though, you’ll understand. So, let’s talk about how my whole adventure got started…

I graduated university with two types of paper.

In one hand, I had a normal looking, single, white page. On it was a funny looking stamp and some words that said something to the effect of, “I know how to think about things, how to stay awake during lectures despite pulling all-nighters, and how to pay unfathomable amounts of money for silly pieces of stamped paper which state that I can do those aforementioned things.”

In my other hand, I had little green pieces of paper. On them were funny looking drawings that said something to the effect of, “I will trade you many of these green papers in exchange for material items or services.” After saving up years for just this moment, I had a modestly respectable number of these green pieces of paper.

Cash and a college degree. Guess which one was more useful, reader?

So, I had freedom, enough money to live semi-modestly for a few months, and a lost balloon to find. What would any young, recently graduated adult who saw the world as a giant library full of stories do in my situation?

I bought a motorcycle, and started wandering.

Looking back, life was rather simple for me. I traveled all around the United States for the summer.

I got lost in the wide open expanses of the Great Plains. I felt my insignificance in the shadows of the monolithic Rocky Mountains. I looked up at an infinity of stars each night from windy peaks and drew up new constellations.

I imagined ancient tribes of native peoples sitting in the exact same spot as me, hundreds — maybe even a thousand? — years ago. What did the stars look like to them as they drew pictures in the sky, weaving stories to share with each other over a campfire, distilling significance out of God’s greatest demonstration of physics and science in action? Did they feel as small back then as I did now when I looked up, getting lost in the infinite beauty as I tried to spot a long-astray balloon in the quiet black?

This was how I spent the first summer of my search. This was the first time I was ever truly free. Night to night, city to city. I slept in campgrounds, wilderness, the occasional hostel. Everywhere I went, I felt like there was hundreds of years worth of history to explore, people to meet, stories to experience…

But, I always felt like a shadow. An outside observer, peeking into little snippets of each city’s soul as I passed quietly and effortlessly through. I was a bird, gliding over the water, gazing down into the depths as I quietly flew by above, unnoticed, not making a single ripple. One day, eventually, I would learn how to make an impact in the world, how to cause waves and rock boats. The bird would soon make a splash.

But that’s for a later chapter.

For now, though, I was new to this whole traveling thing, so I was passive. For that reason, I don’t have many exciting stories to tell about my first summer.

That is, until I rode in to the town that would change my life forever and jumpstart my search.

“Boy, what in Heaven’s name are you doing out there on that?”

The question came from a sweet old lady standing behind a gas station counter. She looked at me with absolute pity mixed with motherly worry.

I had walked into this middle of nowhere gas station shivering cold and dripping wet. I’d spent the entire day fighting the type of earth shattering, sky ripping, summer thunderstorm that often fills the great, wide, blue expanse over the Midwestern plains of the United States.

When I left Chicago on my motorcycle that morning, the sky was perfectly clear. Perfectly clear. I had cruised westward along shallow, rolling hills and gorgeous fields of grain dotted with bright, cherry red barns and rumbling green tractors.

I was happily riding through a real life American cowboy country song until the hell-storm came with howling, demonic winds bent on blasting me off the road. Thick, heavy raindrops pummeled me like a thousand fists. Lightning streaked bright enough to blind me. It was all I could do to keep puttering along on my motorcycle until I found refuge at this tiny, barely-there gas station. The place was so small it looked as though the storm might rip it up without so much as a shrug.

“Good afternoon,” I ignored the old lady’s introductory comment and flashed my brightest smile. I knew I must have looked absolutely absurd and possibly insane to her. Soaked to the bone and shivering, I was closer to a sailor who had gone overboard and washed up on shore than a man out for a summer ride on his motorbike, “Do you know where the nearest town is?” I looked down at the puddle of rainwater I was already leaving on the floor, “And would I be able to…dry off…in your bathroom?”

“Well, there’s nothing but farm towns out here…” she took on a look of concern, worried that her next few words might spell my certain doom, “…but there is Omaha, maybe fifty miles west.”

“Omaha? What’s in Omaha?”

“Oh, lots of stuff,” she waved her hand, “biggest city between Chicago and Denver. There’s supposed to be a big hot air balloon festival this weekend. But I don’t know how all those contraptions are gonna fare in this here storm,” she pulled the bathroom keys out from behind the counter, leaned on the register, and looked at me with worry in her eyes. “But, honey, you don’t wanna be riding all the way out there in this weather. Think of your poor mother…It’s just…absurd.”

She smiled at me, but it was one of those smiles where you can’t tell if the person is amused or has pity for you. It was the kind of smile that you would give your daughter when she comes home from school holding a painting she’s super proud of, but looks to you like Jackson Pollock’s used nose tissue.

I grabbed the keys and thanked her, then went to the bathroom where I proceeded to wring myself as dry as possible. After squeezing enough water out of my clothes to open a lakeside resort, I came back out to find that the old lady had taken the liberty to pour me a cup of hot coffee which was set beside a microwaved sandwich.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time in the American Midwest, dear reader, but you will never, ever find such open and warm compassion anywhere else. Every place you enter in this often forgotten pocket of the world, the people treat you like family. They smile and say hello to you on the sidewalk. They drive politely and hold the door open for you.

Their inviting hospitality and friendliness is unmatched, so long as you don’t cause trouble. And, if you do cause trouble…well, they say in America that there is a gun behind every blade of grass. In the Midwest, it’s more like three guns and a baseball bat behind every stalk of corn. And there are many, many cornfields in these parts.

I made small talk with the motherly cashier as I brought my soul back to life with the food and coffee she so graciously offered me. I asked her about Omaha. It seemed worth the visit. In fact, I was running low on funds after many weeks of traveling and I figured some temporary work to earn a few dollars was in order. I knew these tiny farm towns that dotted the landscape weren’t quite bustling enough to have any work available. Meanwhile, Chicago seemed too…murdery…for my taste. So, as this lovely cashier lady told me about Omaha, I thought, Yes. That would make for a good stop. And who knows? Maybe the freight train winds of these midwestern thunderstorms had trapped my balloon like they had trapped me, causing it to drift into Omaha for refuge.

As the rain outside let up, I gave my thanks and goodbye to the old lady, saddled up on my bike, and headed west.

Now, reader, I’m sure Omaha is a lovely city every day of the year. But, let me tell you, it looked absolutely magical to me that afternoon as I crossed the Missouri River and gazed towards downtown from the bridge. The storm had passed, leaving big scars of color-filled clouds in the sky. It was as though a war had been waged between two gods over the city, and these sunlit, billowy slashes of cloud were the scattered remnants and debris after the final battle had been fought.

There was something else in the sky, though, that completed the gorgeous portrait of the Omaha skyline for me.

Hot air balloons.

They were everywhere over the town. Big, billowing, and cheerful. They dotted the sky, lilting below the clouds, like whimsical music notes dancing on the lines of sheet music made up of sunbeams.

I kept my eye on the sky, watching the airborne baskets. They had started descending and seemed to be converging to a common location outside of town. Due to my completely rational, well-adjusted, not-clinically-worrying-at-all obsession with balloons, I had to go investigate.

As I rode through the brick-street downtown, everything took on a golden, sepia hue in the late afternoon sun. People were coming out of restaurants and cafés, peeking their heads through the doors to make sure the torrential downpour and wind had gone before stepping into the calm streets. The rain, which looked treacherous a few hours ago, now formed puddles on the sidewalks, romantically reflecting the warm sunlight.

I made it to a field west of the city, and found myself at a festival of sorts. The balloons — maybe a dozen — had all landed in a semicircle around a large village of tents and canopies full of laughing and music. The balloon pilots looked to be tying down their ships for the day before heading into a big, central, circus-style tent. Parking my motorcycle and pausing to stretch after a long day’s ride, I wandered in.

There was clearly a party going on. Tables and chairs were strewn about the tent and the place was full of drinking, laughing midwesterners. Music from a band in the corner gave the air a light electricity while people cleared an opening on the ground for dancing. In the center of the tent was a bar where beer, wine, and snacks were being served.

There must have been over a hundred people in the tent. All carefree and as light on their feet as the balloons outside. I walked up to the bar, unsure of what I would do. I was running short on money and certainly couldn’t spare any on drinks and festivities. My stomach was growling, though. The gas station sandwich was the only thing I had eaten since the hot dog in Chicago that served as my breakfast.

I leaned my back against the bar top and looked out at the crowd hoping that, if I wasn’t facing the bartender, he wouldn’t ask me to order something. Seeing everyone dancing and laughing, I decided to just soak it all in, willing my stomach to be filled vicariously through watching them eat, drink and be merry.

Reader, do you remember what I told you about midwestern hospitality earlier? Well, it took all of about thirty seconds for that to kick in and ignite what happened next. Sure, maybe it was jumpstarted by the alcohol, but I like to think it was sheer, outgoing, altruistic friendliness that caused the following to happen…

“Hey, you!”

I looked around. Was someone talking to me? There were so many people in here, it was hard to tell.

“Yeah, you! Mister Lonely o’er there! What’reya drinkin’?”

I spotted a girl pointing at me as she half walked, half danced up to the bar. The first thing I noticed was that she was holding not one, not two, not even three wine glasses. She, in fact, was somehow able to grasp four glasses of wine — two in each hand — and sauntered up to me without a care in the world for them, yet not spilling a single drop. Each glass looked to be at a different stage of imbibement: one was nearly full, another bone dry, the third was mostly empty. The fourth, she was currently drinking out of as she walked up.

“What’re ya drinkin’?” She repeated as the swallowed her wine, “It’s on me. I’m celebrating!” She held her arms out.

Without waiting for me to respond, she waved down the bartender, “Joey, get this guy your pinot,” she glanced at me, “He seems like a pinot drinker. Actually, just give us the bottle,” she chuckled. Placing her drinks down on the bar, she turned to me and stuck out her hand, “I’m Alice!” She beamed at me, I couldn’t tell if she was a naturally bubbly and outgoing person or if it was the four (or, likely more) drinks she’d downed.

As I shook her hand, I noticed a small bruise on her arm. She followed my eyes and paused. For a second — just a second — the smile broke. “Rope burn,” she giggled and regained her glowing smile, “from untying my big baby out there,” she jerked her thumb toward the balloons outside.

The bottle of wine appeared next to us. She started filling up a glass.

“Thanks for the drink,” I watched, a little uncertain of the situation as she poured my glass near to the brim. “So, one of those balloons is yours? What are you celebrating?”

“Yep!” She handed me my glass, but seemed to not hear my second question. Instead of elaborating further, she turned the conversation to me, “So, what brought you here?” She beamed, downing the last of her glasses. How much wine could this girl hold? She was drinking fast, too. Not like how I thought normal people drank wine. Weren’t you supposed to…I don’t know…swirl it around and sniff it or something? She drank it like she was dying from thirst after living in the desert for too long.

I figured with the amount of alcohol she’d had, I could tell her whatever I wanted and she wouldn’t take it too seriously, or even remember me tomorrow, so I gave her my awkward truth. “Well,” I started, “I guess I came because I’m looking for a balloon.”

She nearly spit out her wine in laughter. “Well, detective,” she raised her arms, gesturing at everything around, “You’ve certainly come to the right place!”

We talked longer than I expected to, and I quickly realized that she was not as drunk as I thought. She was just a naturally outgoing person. At first, she mostly told me about Omaha, which was her hometown. And she talked about how much she wanted to leave it, to see what was out there. She looked to be about my age, but her eyes and her words belied a sharpness and experience that a girl at her stage of life shouldn’t possess.

She told me about the time she learned to ride a horse and raced her older brothers until someone fell off — inevitably breaking bones. Then she told me how the graduated from riding horses to dirtbikes — twitchy, jumpy (and not street legal) motorcycles that her seventeen year old self would use to get around her small farming town out west of where we were currently. I told her about my current motorcycle and we found common ground swapping bike stories.

She once rode her uncomfortable, bumpy dirtbike over a hundred miles from her hometown to Omaha to catch a concert with some friends who were attending college there. Inevitably, she got pulled over by the cops — partly because her 450cc dirtbike was not street legal and partly because, well, she was riding 98 miles per hour in a 55 mph area.

“I didn’t even realize dirtbikes could go that fast.” I took a drink.

“Neither did I until I tried it!” She laughed.

Magically — she wouldn’t tell me how — she wrangled her way out of an arrest and even a ticket, too. She got off with a warning and made it to the concert having missed the opening band but gaining a great story to tell her friends.

There was a wild, fiery recklessness to her words. I couldn’t quite put a finger on it, but I knew she was the kind of take charge person who threw caution to the wind — literally, in this case, since she was a hot air balloon pilot.

I know what you’re thinking, reader. No, I wasn’t falling in love with her. I was more…inspired by her, really. She immediately felt like a sister to me. Her confidence and easy-going attitude made me feel like anything was possible. That life was mine to control. You know what I’m talking about? Do you have a friend like that? Someone who’s just…cool?

When she mentioned how she wanted to travel and move away from Omaha, I told her about my summer exploring the United States by motorcycle. I eventually explained what I meant when I said I was looking for a balloon.

She didn’t seem overly surprised or shocked when I brought up what I thought to be such an odd life goal. In fact, she raised an interested eyebrow at the mention of it as if some specific word stood out to her. Alice seemed like the kind of person who’d heard and experienced stranger things than a guy dumping all the cash he had into searching the world for a childhood memory.

The hour got late, and the bottle of wine was nearly empty. I was explaining my financial predicament to her and how I would probably have to stay in Omaha for a few months to save up some funds when her eyes lit up in sudden epiphany.

“Wait,” she looked to some far off place as she started thinking, “I think I can help you.” Despite the alcohol, I had the feeling that her mind was still sharper than most. “Yeah,” she smiled, slowly nodding, “I can definitely help you out. But, I need to take care of some things. Meet me back here at four o’clock.”

“Tomorrow afternoon?”

“No, in a few hours four o’clock. Four in the morning.”

She punched me on the shoulder and flashed her brilliant smile, “Don’t be late!”

And at that, she bounced away to chat with a few other girls, leaving me with an empty wine bottle, half a dozen glasses, and a lot of questions.

I looked at my watch, it was ten o’clock at night.

I found a ride back into town, not trusting myself to use my motorcycle after sharing a bottle of wine without any food. Man, why didn’t I ask Alice to buy some food? Fortunately, if there is one thing that Omaha has in spades, it’s amazing cuisine.

What’s your favorite dish, reader? What’s your go-to late night comfort food that makes you feel like everything is alright in the world?

Whatever your answer, I can guarantee you that Omaha has a gourmet restaurant that prepares your favorite dish to utter perfection. I’m serious. That night, everywhere I looked there was a restaurant with delectable scents drifting out it’s open doors. From little hole in the wall places to five star steakhouses to food trucks. Omaha is a food paradise. It was affordable, too.

For me, my late night vice when I’m weary and tired is ramen noodles, but not the kind you get in a styrofoam cup at the grocery store. I’m talking ramen in a real, rich, savory broth with a soft boiled egg, bok choy, and pork belly. Maybe some green onion and chili oil thrown in, too. Ramen that fills both your stomach and your soul. That’s the good stuff.

Imagine my surprise that night to find that Omaha is downright riddled with ramen restaurants. I don’t mean Chinese and Japanese restaurants that happen to serve ramen, but places dedicated to that one perfect dish just like you would actually find in Japan (we’ll get to my Japan story in another chapter, reader, I promise…).

So, as I puzzled over Alice’s strange conclusion to our conversation, I found distraction and ease in the form of a ramen bowl in a little shop tucked away in the heart of downtown Omaha. It was the perfect ending to weeks and weeks on the road.

The food distracted me from a feeling of sudden unease I had about what tomorrow would bring. Sure, Alice seemed amazing. But, I had no idea what Alice was planning and, after all, I had just barely met her. Maybe she was just going to introduce me to a friend who needed some work done on their farm or something. But at four in the morning? Something seemed off. I felt a nervous feeling in me forming, brewing on the horizon like a monolithic, midwestern thunderstorm approaching with the sunrise.

In the wee hours, I made my way back to the festival grounds tired, but nervously excited. I was groggily thinking through today’s possibilities as I walked around the tents looking for her. I wasn’t sure where she would be at until I heard a sudden roaring sound from over near the balloons. It was a sustained blast that shocked me out of my tiredness. It sounded like a bonfire, or a small rocket engine, even.

I ran over to the balloons. They were all deflated and put away, except for one, which had its canopy spread out on the ground and the basket on its side. That’s where I saw Alice.

Or, at least, I saw half of her. Her legs were sticking out as she crawled around in the overturned basket, apparently rummaging through some things. There was a high powered fan next to her, blowing air into the balloon. As I came closer, she pushed herself up and out of the basket, standing to face me.

“Good! You made it!” She examined me, furrowing her eyebrows, “Where’s you stuff? Go get your stuff!”

“Wait, wh-” I was interrupted by the balloon’s burner going off with another rocket engine roar. I was too distracted by Alice’s comical form earlier, but now I noticed that the balloon’s envelope was quickly inflating due to the fan and rising up off the ground courtesy of the flame’s heat.

“…Are…are we going somewhere?” As soon as the words left my mouth I knew it was a dumb question.

“No, of course not,” she placed her hands on her hips, “I just felt like getting up at this god-forsaken witching hour to inspect my ride and figured you would want sit and watch,” she tilted her head as she threw her arms in the air, “Of course we’re going somewhere! Now, get your things!” She turned her attention back to the balloon, but still addressed me, “We’re gonna be thick as thieves, you and I, but hurry up! We don’t have much time.”

Have you ever been in a situation where you have no idea what’s going on, or what to do, so you just follow anyone at all who’s giving instructions? Desperate for someone to follow just to keep from getting paralyzed? Like a confused kid in a soccer game who unexpectedly finds herself in possession of the ball and just does whatever their team mate screams to them without thinking?

That was me in this moment. Was I really about to get in this girl’s hot air balloon and float off to who knows where? And why are we doing this at four in the morning? And why do I have to hurry up? What about my motorcycle? But instead of pausing to ask questions, I simply did what she told me. She just had that kind of confidence about her.

I ran and grabbed my backpack, stuffed it with a few things from my motorcycle saddlebags. As I ran back to Alice, I heard the loud revving of a truck speeding by on the road nearby.

Out here? At this hour?

“Alice, is someone else coming with u-”

“Crap, we’re outta time. Get in!” She heard it too, then. She took my bag and tossed it into the basket which was now upright. The balloon looked fully inflated above it. I climbed aboard, then turned around and offered my hand to Alice to pull her in.

“Wait, not yet,” She muttered as her eyes darted back and forth around the area. Her voice suddenly sounded shaky. I looked at her face and could see the confidence draining from it — replaced by the specter of uncertainty. What was happening to her?

Her moment of hesitation broke the adrenaline spell she had over me and I finally managed to ask, “Alice, what’s going on?”

She looked at me with wide, suddenly uncertain eyes. It looked unnatural on her. “Look, remember when I said last night that I was celebrating and that this was my hot air balloon?” Her voice got soft and she started to rub the bruise on her arm — did she say it was a rope burn? “I have a confession to make. I lied,” she swallowed, “I know, I know, I’ve only known you for a day and I’m already lying, but…” she looked like she wanted to cry but didn’t, as if she had run out of tears already. “I was celebrating, though. Sort of. Celebrating getting away from my husband. Celebrating our divorce, I guess you could say. I was going to run away tonight.”

The truck noise had gotten closer. I couldn’t see it but it sounded like it was near the tents. Whoever was driving it started honking.

“I had to get away from him,” she was still looking me in the face, “I had to. This is his balloon. He brought it out for this weekend’s festival and, I don’t know. I thought I was going to steal it and…fly away, I guess? Far away. From here. From him. I couldn’t take a plane. I don’t have the money. I couldn’t drive away, either. I wouldn’t get anywhere before the cops found his stolen truck. The balloon, though, I could sneak away in the balloon in the middle of the night and he’d never find out where I went. This weekend was the perfect chance. But, I…I didn’t want to be alone. Where would I go? What would I do? I wasn’t sure if I could go through with it. Then you showed up and…I don’t know, I figured you would help me. I guess I’m looking for a lost balloon of sorts, too.”

The truck honking got more incessant. I heard a door opening and a man shouted, “Alice! ALICE! I know you’re over there! I can see the balloon for crissake! Get over here now before I have to drag you!”

“Ok, Alice, I get it. Then let’s go!” I offered my hand again. Sure, I’d known her for less than a day, but, if she was in that bad of a situation, then who was I to criticize her plan? We could discuss the finer points of her long term solution later, after she was away from here.

She wasn’t moving, though. She kept rubbing the bruise on her arm as she looked at my outstretched hand. The burner roared again, lighting up her face with an orange glow in the pre-sunrise. The basket had started to lift off the ground, slowly.

“Okay,” she looked at the ground, what happened to her fiery recklessness? Her courage seemed to vanish the moment she heard the truck coming, “Ok, let’s go,” but she didn’t reach out for the basket. She just kept staring at the ground, rubbing her bruise.

She whispered something to herself, but I couldn’t hear it over the sound of the truck door slamming shut and heavy footfalls near the tents. Her husband would be here in less than a minute. The balloon kept rising. I kept my hand out. Alice kept still.

“Alice,” I whispered, hoping her husband wouldn’t hear a male voice and assume the worst, “Alice,” I wanted to say something like, ‘Alice, we’re out of time, if you want to go, we have to move now, the balloon’s rising! This is your chance to leave it all behind!’

Instead, the words that came out were, “Alice, it’s ok. I understand. It’s hard,” I dropped my hand, “it’s not over, though. You can win.” She just wasn’t ready to leave everything behind yet. That was ok, though.

She could face her situation, and I’d stay in Omaha for a few months to regain some funds and maybe help her out in some way, too, before setting off again. After all, running away probably wasn’t the wisest opti — wait. The balloon was still rising…

“Alice, how do I get back down?”

At that, she seemed to shake herself awake. She looked back up to me with steel eyes, now beaming with her lost determination. She harshly whispered, “Get down so he doesn’t see you!” Her confidence was back, but it was too late, I was now too high up for her to reach and still rising. She turned around to face a man who had just rounded the corner of the nearest tent. I ducked behind the wicker walls of the basket just in time to hear the footsteps stop. After a moment, I heard a loud slap rang out across someone’s face.

I tried to listen to what was happening, but the howling burner kept igniting a blaze over my head, drowning everything out. Still rising, I figured the balloon was high enough in the air that I could probably peek over the edge of the basket without the man noticing.

I looked down and saw Alice running through the tents towards the truck. The man, her husband, was holding his cheek —it was turning the brightest shade of red and I thought I saw blood on his lower lip. He was standing there, either dazed or shocked or in disbelief, maybe all three. He was frozen — in the very same spot that Alice had been paralyzed just moments before — as his wife sprinted for the truck — no, she wasn’t running for the truck. She was headed for my motorcycle! Did she palm my keys when she tossed my bag in the basket? How did she know to take them? These questions quickly left my mind, though, as I became occupied with the sight of her riding away. As far away as she could.

The balloon kept rising until I could see the entire city from above. I looked down on it and again I felt like a bird gliding over the water, observing what was below. Except, for the first time, I had made a splash, an impact. My appearance in the town sent a ripple — through Alice’s life at least. But, was that ripple a promising sea change or a treacherous wave? Did I make things better or worse? I didn’t know.

…There was another thing I didn’t know, and that was how to pilot a hot air balloon.

With no idea of what to do and no Alice to inspire confidence and direction, I looked around. To the East, I saw the barest hint of a sunrise on the horizon. To the West, however, was an earth shattering, sky ripping, summer thunderstorm fast approaching. I stood there and watched it come, helpless in my big, stolen, hot air balloon. Raindrops had already started to fall and the wind was picking up, pushing me…somewhere, powerless to do anything. And that’s how this whole adventure got started.

Hope you enjoyed! Keep an eye out for part III soon! Follow me on Twitter to know when it’s published.

Photo by Ali Abdul Rahman on Unsplash

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