Sometimes it was difficult for me to remember Susie was twelve, especially when I noticed her scrunching her nose; this was always a sign she was deep in thought.
She looked up at the orange balloon tied to her wrist and after much deliberation pulled the loose end of the string. The newly-released balloon floated up and momentarily became stuck in a branch until a gentle breeze freed it from a leafy prison and it continued on a heavenly journey.
“What goes up must come down,” she whispered. I wasn’t sure if she was talking to me or thinking out loud.
“What hun?” I asked. I could see a hypothesis forming in her mind; I blame her scientist mother for moments like these. Well, maybe blame isn’t the right word since I adore our after-school hangouts in the park. Sometimes being a writer has its perks.
“I was just thinking about something Miss Rivers said in class today. We were doing a lab with eggs and she said that everything that goes up comes down. Do you know the saying?”
“Well, what about my balloon? It went up and won’t come down.” We both looked skyward at the small orange dot that was once leashed to her small wrist.
“Well, the balloon is going up now, but it won’t necessarily continue to go up, right? What happens to a balloon when you bring it home?”
She shifted her weight on the bench. “It floats for a day or two and then starts to shrivel, like a raisin. As the helium wears out it stops floating. So you’re right, the balloon will eventually come down. I guess Miss Rivers knows what she’s talking about.”
She looked at her chucks. “The statement doesn’t provide any kind of specific timeline. I thought of our eggs going up and coming down immediately after she said it, because it was directly in front of me when she made the comment. But I guess it doesn’t specify when objects come down. Maybe the saying should be ‘What goes up eventually comes down,’ hmm?” She sat staring at the balloon until she could no longer see it.
She reached out a small hand, her signal that she was ready to start the walk home. I got up and took her hand as we began the walk home. Her nose was scrunched again.
“Airplanes land, or they’d run out of fuel and crash.” I nodded to her. “What about satellites? Or other things we launch into orbit?”
I had no answer to that, and a simple “Ask your mother,” seemed inappropriate. “I’m not sure,” is all I came up with.
“It would seem I found a paradox,” she said, and I nodded. Again, I can’t believe she’s twelve. At that, the man who originally gave her the balloon appeared again.
“Did you lose your balloon? I probably didn’t tie it tight enough. Would you like another?”
Her eyes opened wide and innocent as she looked up at the bunch and chose a color.
“Red, please,” she said with a colossal smile.
*Inspired by the word Paradox shared by Ashley Smolnik