Rising High

Annalee looked around, wondering where the ride operator was.

There was no one in sight, and the sight was vast. A large green field, lush, verdant even. Far off in the distance, mountains rose. She knew, once she got in the basket and rose high enough, she would be able to see the most beautiful landscapes.

But no one was around to operate the thing.

She looked at the balloon. It’s fully inflated, she thought. Or heated. Or whatever it was you said about hot air balloons. She glanced down at the sign stating, “Two hour rides: $200”, and the little sign beside it saying, “Back in ten minutes.” Given that forty minute had passed, she thought to herself, “Liar.”

Annalee took one last look around. The field was empty. If there was an operator, or an attendant, or anyone at all, really, they would be a long time coming, and she didn’t want to wait. She walked up to the basket, opened the little door, and closed it behind her. She was able to untie two of the moorings, but the other two grew more taut, and she had to grab the knife strapped to the side of the basket to cut those off.

And she was rising. Her stomach lurched as the balloon lifted off, but settled as it continued to move up and up and up. She grinned, and started looking around.

Far away, from the little chalet she had seen earlier, she could see someone running toward her. Or toward where she had been. Nice try, guy, she thought. You can’t run up the air.

And so Annalee took in the view as the land receded and the world grew. Mountains and forest, a river, a few little cabins. Some deer, now tiny dots. And there, far off, rising over the mountains, was the ocean.

The balloon kept climbing and climbing. The air started to get chilly, and she looked around the basket. No blankets. Well, she thought, I wonder how to make this thing go down.

Oh crap, she thought.

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