Joanne Faries
Kara reached into her blazer pocket and pulled out a crumpled card. She had not worn this jacket for a year, but the card made it through dry cleaning. She squinted to read Jason Moran – Up for Adventure – Balloon Rides.
Memories overwhelmed her. Television images replayed in her head – planes, the World Trade Center, crumpled metal, and a torn American flag. She had been at the Des Moines airport. Disbelief as all flights canceled.
Now, 2002, she lived in Texas, reflected on Jason, who was probably soaring above a canyon or gliding between mountain tops.
September, 2001, grounded passengers made friends over drinks, wept for America, and vowed resolve. Comfort was unconditionally given. She slept in Jason’s arms that night. Two strangers – two lovers for a night who attempted long distance commitment.
Missed calls, a rendezvous in Napa where it was too foggy to go airborne in his bright red balloon, a promise to meet for July 4th but those fireworks fizzled. They drifted apart. She tethered to her business, he afloat in a basket.
On a whim she bought a yellow balloon from a park vendor
In her office, she dialed the number to rekindle a spark. A woman answered, and Kara asked for Jason.
“I’m sorry, he’s gone.”
“May I leave a message?”
“Oh, miss. He passed away a week ago.”
“On his job?” 
“No, a car crash. My boy was stuck on the ground.”
“So sorry.”
The balloon escaped Kara’s fingers, bobbed to the ceiling.
It popped.

First published: February, 2015
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