Why was she holding the balloons? That was the first thing I thought of when I saw her moving toward me in the alley beside my house. Looking back, I wonder why I didn’t wonder about other things, such as why she seemed to be growling as she walked. That should have scared me. That should have made me run. But no, I kept staring at those balloons.
I tried to get a good look at the woman, but it was nearly impossible. Everything she wore was black, including the hood that obscured most of her face. The only things that weren’t black were the balloons. They were bright and were getting brighter and brighter as she moved closer to me.
She began to walk faster and her growls grew louder. I took a step back and tripped, falling to the ground. I tried to get back up but the woman was now there. Hovering mere inches over me.
I looked up to where her face should have been, but there was no face. What was there instead was a bizarre mix of both shadows and fog. The shadows were moving as if they were doing some sort of exotic dance and the small patches of fog mirrored the shadows’ movements.
The growling I’d heard earlier was now much louder than before. I looked again at the woman and suddenly realized that the sounds were not coming from her. They were coming from the balloons she was still holding in her right hand.
I started to rise, but the woman raised her left hand, pointing it at my chest. I suddenly felt like a bomb had gone off within my body. My life had ended in an instant. I knew it. But how could that be? If it was all over, how was I even having those thoughts?
My body was then beneath me, lying motionless on the ground. Whatever I had now become was now drifting upward, but not under my own control. The face of shadows and fog looked at me, then turned to look at the balloons.
The next thing I knew I was inside of one of the balloons. I tried to say something, but it only came out as a growl. Nearly identical growls answered me from all of the other balloons.
Even though we couldn’t speak in human voices, I was able to understand them and they were able to understand me.
“What is going on? What’s happened to me?” I asked.
“It was your time to die. The woman with the balloons is the Soul Drifter. She collects our souls and places them in these balloons.”
“And then what happens?”
“She will figure out where we go next. Then she releases our balloons. Some of us will float away to heaven. Others’ balloons will pop and those of us in those balloons will plummet down to hell. And then there are others who will be delivered back to live again.”
“What about me? Where am I going?”
But before the other souls could answer me, the woman with the balloons turned to look at me again. This time, the shadows and the fog in her face were completely still. I felt myself drift out of the balloon and instantly turn into mist. Joining the shadows and fog, I danced with them in the way I’d seen them dance before.
Then it all came back to me. I’d been here. Many times. This was my true home.
While most souls are destined for heaven, hell, or reincarnation, there are some of us who continuously travel from place to place and from body to body. It is our destiny to join together with others like us. We individual drifters become the one Soul Drifter, using our shared experiences to help other souls find their way.
While I loved my human life, being back here, this is what makes me feel complete. This is my destiny. I am the woman with the balloons. I am the Soul Drifter.