The Balloon: Microfiction


Pierre Puvis de Chavannes [CeCILL ( or CC BY-SA 2.0 fr (, via Wikimedia Commons

She had raged against the war, raged against the loss, and raged against fate. Her husband and her three sons had been killed; her grandchildren would never be born. Her city was destroyed, and there was no one left to rebuild it. Bodies lay in the streets, dead of starvation, disease, and hopelessness. Now the fire of her rage had died to embers. Over it, her sorrow had once simmered and stewed, but now, it too was gone. She was hollow, like a shell abandoned on the beach. She wondered if her body carried echoes of her life before–when she had dreams.

As she walked toward the ancient walls of her city, she noticed a balloon rising in the distant sky. A sign of hope or help? Too late, she thought. She wondered if she imagined it, as she watched the balloon ascend higher and higher, mocking her. She knew she would never rise; the only way for her was down. She hoped her flight would be graceful, like the balloon’s, a final bit of beauty amidst the tragedy of her life. She stood at the top of the city’s wall, spread her arms, and dived into the wind.



She floated, carried by wind currents, by angels’ breath. She floated like a leaf upon the water. She heard a sound, like echoing voices, and a door between worlds opened. There was her city spread beneath her, filled with joyous people, busy with the tasks of everyday life. In a blink, she stood now in the market square. Her eldest son saw her and greeted her with a smile. She noticed a balloon high above her. She dared to dream. Here and always.


This story was for Jane Dougherty’s Sunday strange microfiction challenge. The prompt was the painting above.








30 thoughts on “The Balloon: Microfiction

  1. Interesting take on death and the power of heaven? How wonderful it would be to again see those we have loved and lost. I think this could be expanded into a short story. Would love more about the woman. Thank you, Merril

    • Well, I don’t share your belief in religion or heaven, Susan, but I am somewhat obsessed by different worlds and timelines. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yes, this story has definitely sparked something in me, and there could be more on it somewhere along the line. 🙂

  2. I’ve seen or read about balloons released after funerals, maybe weddings even. The most beautiful sight I’ve seen lately on TV was lighted lanterns released into the skies, a momentous sight no matter what the occasion. I share Susan’s hope about loved ones and, yes, would like to know more about that woman.

    • Thank you, Marian.
      Many people are concerned now about balloons being released because when they pop, birds (or fish?) might eat them.
      I think the balloon in the painting had something to do with the real siege/war, but I didn’t want to know all the details before I wrote the story.

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