Red Balloon

They sat on the concrete bench in the cemetery - a cemetery which was beside the sea. They looked to the far edges of light blue water.
Calm. Quiet. Cold. Still wet out of the last rain.

"What?" he turned his head in question.

"Whaat?!" replied the girl, suddenly interrupted from her silent focus on the sea.

His casual voice spoke "You're my best friend. But you know.. I could make you my love right now"
She tilted her head "You want to love me?"

"May be if I don't find another". His adorable grin.

"Really?". Her eyebrows up. A slight smile on her face.

"Not really. You see.. a balloon - may be a bright red, round one, filled with hydrogen..? Well, it's there in the air, tightened up with a white string, dancing lightly with the wind"

"Hmm.. " she listened.

"Now if you untie the string, let the hydrogen free.. first it flies around in a great thrill.. relaxing itself.. enjoying the flight.. In a short while, it comes down to the earth.. happy and contended, now to settle down in peace. And.. "

"And.. ?"

"And that is love. Even if you and me are filled to the brim with love for each other, we're still the tight-tied balloon, it being friendship. Once we accept to be in love, to be lovers, there unties the white string. There is a big difference"

She suddenly seemed thoughtful. "Yeah, it's true"

"That's why I'm keeping the string tied. There is pressure. There is a lot of something waiting to be released.. But you see, there is, again, the beauty of the balloon. Something we can't blow up with our mouth again. Something which cannot be made to stay floating in the air again, once it is untied.."

A small silence.

"What do we do?". She had a blank face but which was, at the same time, eager to know the answer.

"What if we cut the string and let the balloon fly up.. still tied, free of the possibility of being untied.."

"No!". That was an impulse. From her.

A big silence.
He smiled.
Her face still blank. A slight fear. A slight sense of losing something so un-losable.

He talked.. "I know. It's too good to be missed"

"Let's keep the balloon?". Her soft voice.

He smiled more brightly "Yeah, for now - let's keep the balloon!"

She smiled now.
Eye to eye.
The place still cold and wet.
A moment.

They again turned to the light blue sea.
The sky was misty. It was hard to separate it from the sea.

The red balloon wriggled, elegantly choreographed in the cold white air.

Illustrations: by Me