The Woman with the Balloons

BalloonsWhy 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.

Comic God and the Big Trip

windowI was sitting at my kitchen table reading a very in depth newspaper article about how bunny fighting was becoming popular in my area. I didn’t know much about bunny fighting and I was enjoying learning about it. My initial fear was that it was similar to dog fighting, so I was very relieved to read that the bunnies never actually fight to the death. In fact, many of their fights are resolved with them harmlessly arm wrestling each other.

I was halfway through the article when a comic drawing appeared in between paragraphs. It was of an old man with a long white beard.

My wife Devon was nearby and said something to me, but I was distracted by the drawing. Not from what it looked like, but from what it said to me.

“Hi there, Bobby. You don’t really feel like reading this, do you?” The old man asked.

I stared at him for a moment and didn’t reply. I was going to tell my wife about what had just happened but the little cartoon man whispered to me, “Shhh, Bobby. Don’t tell her what’s going on. Just keep this between us for right now.”

I wanted to speak, but I knew Devon would hear me and I didn’t want her to think I was nuts. The little man looked up at me and smiled.

“You can answer me. You’re in a special place now. She won’t hear you and she won’t see what’s going on between us.”

I looked over at Devon again. Part of me wanted to crumple up my newspaper and throw it away, but a much larger part of me wanted to talk with whoever the man was. After all, it’s not every day that little drawings in newspapers talk with you, right?

“Hello,” I said. “How is this happening?”

He winked at me. “Well, it’s kind of a secret. Do you promise not to tell anyone?”

Who was I going to tell? “Sure, I promise.”

“I’m God,” he said before taking a little bow. It was a very impressive bow.

For some reason, I had no problem believing what he’d just said. “Nice to meet you, God. I’m Robert Harrison.”

“Ah, but your closest friends call you Bobby,” God said. “I want to be your friend.” He extended his handhand1 a little bit and then it rose up above the newspaper and got larger and larger. In just a couple of seconds, it was the size of a normal hand, though it still looked like a drawing. I reached towards it and we shook hands. For a drawing of a hand, it felt remarkably like a regular hand. It also felt a bit like it was covered in peanut butter. I looked down and saw that I was right. It actually was covered in peanut butter.

“Very nice to meet you, God.” I said. Looking back on this now, I’m surprised I wasn’t more freaked out at the time. What can I say? There was something very comforting about the drawing of God and the sound of his voice. I was even comforted by the peanut butter on his hand.

I went to pull my hand away from our shake, but God tightened his grip on my hand. “Hey, don’t let go yet. Want to come somewhere with me?”

“Am I dead? Are you taking me to heaven?” I asked.

“Oh no, Bobby. You’re definitely not going to heaven,” God said.

Now I was freaked out. “What do you mean I’m not going to heaven? I’m going to Hell? No way. I’m a good person.”

“No, that’s not what I meant. I just meant that you’re not going to heaven right now. We’re going somewhere else.” He pointed to the window behind me. “Look out there.”

I turned and looked and saw that it was now dark outside, which made no sense at all since it was just a little after noon. I turned back and looked across the room at Devon. Behind her, I had a fantastic view of our living room window which showed me that it was bright and sunny outside. I looked back again out the kitchen window and saw the same darkness I had seen the first time I looked.

“Don’t worry about it being dark out there,” God said. “Tell me what else you see.”

“I see that there’s already a full moon, but that doesn’t make any sense. We’re not supposed to get a full moon tonight.”

“Really, Bobby? Come on. Just that one thing doesn’t make sense? None of this makes much sense, does it?” God asked.

“Well, true.”

“What else do you see?”

I looked out and saw something else I hadn’t seen before. “Well, there’s a big tree right there that wasn’t there before. No offense, God, but will that be gone when we’re done with whatever it is we’re doing? I don’t necessarily want a tree there.”

“You don’t like trees?” God asked. “They’re one of my best creations.” I started to reply but God cut me off. “Don’t worry. It will be gone. Tell me what else you see.”

cat3I looked at the tree and saw a cat on one of the branches. It was gray and had a purple collar with a bell on it. It looked over at me and winked.

“That’s Kitty Baby,” God said. “Pretty, isn’t she?”

I nodded. “She’s beautiful.”

“Yes, she is. Not only that, but she’s our trip to the moon!” He gripped my hand tighter and then we were suddenly very, very, very tiny and sitting on the cat’s back. God was holding onto her collar like it was reigns on a horse.

“Giddy up, Kitty Baby!” He yelled.

Kitty Baby nodded her head several times. It shook her whole body so hard that I nearly fell off of her. “Giddying up now, God,” she said in a voice that was disturbingly sexy. “Would you like a cocktail or peanuts for the trip?”

“None for me, thanks,” God said.

“Robert? Anything for you?” Kitty Baby asked.

“No, thank you, but you can call me Bobby,” I said. Why not? If I was going to sit next to God on this cat’s back as she took us to the moon, I may as well consider her enough of a friend to let her call me by my nickname, right?

She nodded and took a few quick steps and then jumped off of the branch onto a higher branch. We repeated the process over and over again until we got to the very top of the tree, which is when two very large wings suddenly appeared out of the sides of Kitty Baby’s body. She flapped them quickly and then we were soaring through the air.

We rose higher and higher and I looked over at God. He had a large pair of headphones on his head. I could faintly hear music coming out from them. God had his eyes closed and was bobbing his head up and down to the music. I tapped him on the shoulder. He looked over at me and lifted one of the speakers from his ear.

“What are you listening to?” I asked.

“Frank Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me To The Moon.’ It seemed appropriate,” God said. Then he put the speaker bacThumbs-up-from-Godk on his ear and resumed listening to the song. He smiled at me and gave me a thumbs up. I wanted to look cool, so I gave God a thumbs up in return.

We flew for just a few more minutes and then we were right above the moon. God was still jamming to Sinatra and didn’t seem to notice. I reached to tap him on the shoulder again but Kitty Baby turned her head and said, “Best to not interrupt him. He hates when anything comes between him and Frank.”

“Okay, thanks.” I wasn’t sure what else to say, so I just said, “Happy landing, Kitty Baby.”

She winked at me and smiled. All of sudden, both of her wings disappeared.

“Uh oh!” She exclaimed as we started to quickly plummet towards the moon.

“Don’t worry,” God chimed in. “I’ve got this.” I looked over at him and saw that he was now wearing what looked to be a huge backpack with a string hanging from its side. He pulled the string and the pack opened. A large polka-dotted parachute came out of the pack and extended the way that polka-dotted parachutes are supposed to extend. We then safely drifted down to the moon’s surface.

We landed and Kitty Baby said, “Thank you for flying with Kitty Baby Airlines. Please tell your friends about us.” God and I jumped off of her and she ran away.

“Where is she going?” I asked. “Will she come back?”

God nodded. “Don’t worry. We’ll see her again in a few minutes. Hey, do you want to see my God Cave?”

“Your God Cave?” I asked.

“Yes. You know how Batman has The Bat Cave, right? Well, I got the idea long before he did.”

God then led us into a large gathering of dozens of very huge boulders. They all looked the same except for one very large purple one. God picked it up and set it aside. I looked down into a large hole where the rock had been and saw steps leading deep down into the God Cave.

“What’s down there?” I asked.

“The answer that you’ve been seeking,” God said. “Follow me down.”

So I followed him down the very long flight of steps, all the while wondering what he meant about an answer I’d been seeking. What was he talking about?

We got to the bottom of the stairs and we were in a very large room that was full of nothing. Well, almost nothing. Kitty Baby was sitting on the floor and was leaning over some sort of square piece of paper in front of her. She was wearing granny-style glasses and was holding a small plastic bottle that had ink running out of it

It all baffled me. “I don’t understand, God. There’s nothing here. Where’s the answer you said I’ve been looking for?”

“Oh, you already have it,” God said. “You’ve had it all along.”

I nodded. “Oh, I see. I just need to look deep, deep into myself and I’ll know what to do, right?”

God laughed at me. “Where did you pick that up from? Some TV show? That’s so new-agey. No, you don’t need to look deeply into yourself. The answer you seek is right there.” He pointed at my belly and poked it with his finger. “Don’t make things harder than they need to be, Bobby. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut instinct. Believe.”

I looked down at where God had touched my belly and saw that he had gotten peanut butter on my shirt. I had never expected God to be so sloppy. “I’m not sure I believe any of this,” I said. “Honestly, sir, I’m not even sure I believe in you.”

“That’s okay if you don’t believe in me. You know what you need to believe in?”

I was pretty sure I knew this one. “Myself?” I asked.

“Bingo,” Kitty Baby yelled out. I looked over at her and she was holding the square piece of paper high above her head.

Suddenly, there was a blast of heavy wind and the next thing I knew, I was blown off the floor and was quickly flying backwards up the flight of stairs. “Remember, you already know what you want!” God and Kitty Baby said in unison.

All of a sudden I was back at my kitchen table and my wife was across from me standing next to our refrigerator. “Bobby, are you listening to me at all? You’re making this a lot harder than it needs to be.”

manlookingoutwindow“Huh? Yes, of course I’m listening to you.” I said. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, but I was hoping I could fake it.

“So, please make up your mind. What do you want for lunch? Vegetable soup again or something else?”

We’d been on a health-kick lately, so I was going to say the soup, but then I glanced out the window and saw a very familiar looking cat.

“Sweetheart, I’m going to pass on the soup,” I said. “I think I’ll have a peanut butter sandwich instead. I’ve kind of been wanting one for a while now.”

“No problem,” she said. “Anything else?”

I thought of something else I’d been craving. “Yes,” I said. “For dessert, could I please have a moon pie?”