The sheep floated on the blue, etched on the cloud’s sphere. In the short time that I wrote my story in the sky, they had reshaped into vapour, then pelted down. The rain fell over a garbage dump of a used plastic pond. Children of the narrow alley played in the rain as they crossed it precariously over the wavering surface. The only way to decipher a pond underneath, was by the liquid walks of the nimble feet.
Eight, seven, and nine, the children tiptoed. Only their parents knew their names. They were headed towards a destination—a balloon factory. Hired to make party balloons of many colours, blue, yellow, pink, and red, they made a rainbow of balloons and stacked them up in a corner. Balloons, to be used for birthday parties.
They held the rainbow in their palms, but never had the opportunity to use any for birthday parties of their own. After a grueling shift of making balloons all day, they returned home with a few in their hands. But they flew away. They chased them but they went too high, lost in the sky. Walking the same liquid walk, over the pond, they came back to the alley. Each day, abundant balloons were made to last a hundred parties. They gave hope and joy to the many thousands who were born with a rainbow band around their heads.
The children were soaked in the rain. They crossed the hazardous pond balancing themselves on plastic. The last of the rains withered the lambs away from the blue—a balloon in its own right. The children ran along the alley under this blue balloon. This was a good day, they thought. Because their mothers were home and they could smell the cooking. The four lambs bleated at their respective ratty doors. They cried out—we are home. The mothers let them inside. Their dry mouths spread to hungry grins. Sons and mothers greeted one another.
“How was the day?” mums asked.
“We almost held the rainbow right here in the middle of our palms,” they said.
“Meaning?” mums asked.
“We chased some balloons at the plastic pond. But we lost them in the sky, along the way.”
“You couldn’t bring any home?” the mums asked.
“No. But it doesn’t matter,” they said.
“Why not?” mums asked.
“Quite simple. We went. We returned. We see you. You see us. What more can you ask for?”
The lambs were back, dissipating once again. This time, they left their signature in the silent bleat of a contrail across the serene blue sky.
Text ©2022 Mehreen Ahmed
All rights reserved
…is an Australian novelist born in Bangladesh. Her historical fiction,The Pacifist, is a Drunken Druid’s Editor’s Choice and an Amazon Audible bestseller. Gatherings,is nominated for the James Tait Black Prize for fiction. Her short fiction has won in The Waterloo Festival Competition, Academy of the Heart and Mind contest, A Cabinet-Of-Heed Stream-Of-Consciousness Challenge, shortlisted, finalist, nominated for the 3xbotN, Pushcart, Publication of the Month, and Honourable Mention. Also, critically acclaimed by Midwest Book Review, DD Magazine, The Wild Atlantic Book Club to name a few. She is a juror to the KM Anthru Award, Litterateur RW Magazine, and featured writer on Flash Fiction North and Connotation Press. She has published books, articles, essays, and short fiction in international magazines, online, and in anthologies. Her works have been translated into German, Greek and Bangla.