Monday, 10 February 2014

99 Red Balloons by Barbara Leahy

Words with JAM BIGGER Short Story Competition 2013
1st PRIZE WINNER (250 word category)

My father says if bad men come I must close my eyes and pretend I am far away in some safe place.  That way no bad memories.
I was eight: we had a party.  Banana peanut cake and mango fritters.  And a bunch of red balloons tied to our door.
Men come with knives.  In the morning my father is gone.
I blew out candles one by one.  We ate cake, rich and sweet.
Mamma is bleeding.  They force open her body, rattle her heart.  After, I hold her close and she cries.
We sang pop songs, played games.  I was sick on my dress and Mamma hugged me through the smell.
For years we are poor.  Mamma plucks flowers from air, sings old songs.     Doctors cost money.  One by one, I put the wax-coated bags into my mouth.  I must swallow many.
Cinnamon and ginger cake, spicy and moist.  So many good things hidden inside.
I feel sick but I am brave.  I imagine my father, far away in some safe place.  Maybe he left on a plane like this one.
Coconut ice-cream, cold and pure.  It slid down my throat like silk.
Clouds swallow us and the ground thumps hard.  This country is cold and dark.  Men come with questions and I am afraid.  Women search my bag and take my clothes.  They force open my body, rattle my heart.

I close my eyes.  Red balloons, tied to our door.  I feel them shrivel and harden inside me.

1 comment:

  1. I was mystified with the story at first but after a while I realize the true meaning if it. I like it. Thank you for sharing.