Hilda Oakley

Australian author and poet

   Jan 06


Balloons!  Balloons!  The sound echoed in his brain.  He woke up with a start.  He’d been dreaming once more.  Then he spotted it; a vivid red balloon flying high in the sky, then gently it landed beside him, and memories flooded his mind of when he was a wee lad and the circus had come to town.  Gaily painted vans, clowns, horses that performed stunts, elephants, tigers and many more exciting things.

Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye something caught his attention.  Balloons, masses of them, a rainbow of dazzling colours.  Red, orange yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, a real kaleidoscope of brilliant colours.  Come buy a balloon, small, large, singles and bunches of them.  After scrimping and saving, doing extra jobs, Simon had enough money for the entrance fee into the circus and enough money for one balloon.  He stood for a few hours waiting and watching as the man twisted and turned balloons into all different shapes and sizes.  Then to his amazement, the balloon man called him.  “Sonny!” he said,  “This one is for you.”  It was in the shape of a poodle.

On thanking Scott the balloon man, an idea came to Simon; he would run away with the circus, if they would have him and hide him from his wicked stepfather.  When he told Scott the balloon man of his idea and how he had been treated at home, the balloon man hid him.  The police and his uncle never found him; he had been hidden in a large basket of coloured scarves and balloons.

Simon was too young to be an apprentice to the balloon man, but he still worked hard for his food and board.  He was used to hard work.  Here he cleaned out animal cages and washed caravan windows.  What he still loved the best was watching the balloon man with his amazing dedication to his career of balloon shaping.

His 16th birthday came around.  The caravan was full of balloons and even his cake was shaped like a balloon.  Hidden somewhere in the van was a present for him.  He had to search high and low and follow clues to find it.  At last, in the bottom of a basket was an envelope with his name on it.  He tore it open with a wild yippee!  It was what he’d been waiting for, a certificate to learn to make balloons under the guidance of the great maestro ‘Scott the Balloon Man’.

In the mornings he would still do his chores, but the afternoons were his and the balloon man’s time.  Day after day he practiced and dreamt about balloons.  At last his heart was bursting with pride, he had caught on how to twist and turn and form magnificent creations.  At his first show the children were mesmerised and wide eyed, just as he was when he was little.

Now sitting on his veranda, he was waiting for his children and grandchildren to come as he had turned 80 today.  He mused to himself wondering just what his present from them would be.  As they gave him the envelope his hands shook.  It was a trip in a hot-air balloon.  It was scary, challenging, but most of all the ultimate and amazing experience for a man obsessed by balloons.

Hilda Oakley
Copyright © 21.03.2008

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