Double J's Balloon
He was handing balloons out in his bear suit like always. I hung back waiting for the crowd of kids to go. My school bag was heavy. I suppose I could have dropped it off at home, but then I might miss him. That would be bad.
The last kid leaves. Finally. I run over as if I had just gotten there. "Mr. Bear!" I waved.
He looked over to me. "If it isn't the kid that's too big for a ballon."
I smiled like a moron when I got to his side. "That's right. I'm way too mature for a balloon." I sat down on a park bench. "Only kids in elementary school like balloons."
"Oh really?" He took a seat beside me. "I beg to differ. Before you came, I had kids your age coming to me."
I stuck my tongue out. "Not all high schoolers are as mature as me." I couldn't see, but I bet he raised an eyebrow at me. "Anyway." I waved the subject away. "I failed my socail studies test."
I punched him in the arm. "You're an ass. Why am I talking to you?"
"Because you have no friends?"
I punched him again. "I do to. I have lots of." I trailed off. "Okay fine, I have none."
He laughed at me. "Don't feel too bad."
"I don't actually. I could carless." He was probably looking at me with pitty. "Anyway, I'm sure my mom's going to flip out when she sees my grades."
"Ever think of studying?"
"If you weren't wearing that heterosexual bear head, I'd punch you square in the jaw."
"Says the little dog that barks the loudest."
"I hate you."
"Then go home."
I didn't move. "It's a free country, I can stay here if I want."
"And I can toture you if I want."
I snorted, crossing my legs on the bench. "For someone in a bear suit, you're mean."
"Well, no one said a bear was nice."
"Dude, bear hugs."
"Too tight if you ask me."
I pushed him slightly going back to the school topic. "It doesn't matter if I study or not." I tapped my knuckles to my head. "I'm just too dumb to keep anything other then video games in here."
"I thought you said you weren't a kid."
"Video games are not just for kids. Mature ratings buddy." I fanned myself with my hand. "Why is it so hot? Summers not for a while." I looked to Mr. Bear. "Aren't you hot in that thing?"
He shook his head. "Not really." A little kid ran up to him so he handed it a red balloon. "This suit isn't really that hot."
"Hmm." I tapped my chin. "Do you have like air condition in there?'
Mr. Bear laughed at me patting my head. "No you moron. I'm just good with heat."
"Well aren't you just perfect." I stood up. "I'm going to get a soda, you want one?"
More kids were coming so I suppose my exit was well timed.
I was at the vending machines picking out my overly caffinated drink when my cell rang. I grimaced not answering it. I went back to find all the kids were gone. "I have to go."
"Your mom call?"
I smiled. "You could call it that." I handed him my drink. "Later Mr. Bear." I waved over my shoulder walking away.
I was staring at the white boared when the bell rang. School was out. I cracked my neck standing up. Foot steps approuached me.
"Hey Double J, what are you doing after school?" Linsey was hopping from foot to foot next to my desk.
I sighed, a bit annoyed. "How long do you plan on calling me 'Double J'? It sounds like something you'd call a kid."
"Forevers! Your name takes way to long to say."
"Longer then Double J?"
Roger waved my question aside. "Come hang with us Double J."
I gritted my teeth. "I have plans."
Linsey smiled devilishly. "To talk to that Mr. Bear again?"
A quick glare was sent her way. "Nothing wrong with talking to him."
"Other then the fact that he could be some creepy pervert under there."
"Linsey, you think too hard about things." Roger cut in. "Besides, even it if was, no one would bother Double J. They probably get their ass handed to them."
Linsey pouted. "I'm just worried about Double J. You could be the crazy person's type."
This made Roger laugh. "I doubt it. Pervs like attractive people."
"Yeah." I leaned back. "You should talk to him Linsey, you could be just his type. Blond, stupid, dumb, and obviusly a girl."
"Hey! Dumb and stupid are the same thing."
Roger looked to me. "That's the only thing she's got a problem with."
I rolled my eyes standing up. "Look, I'm leaving. I highly doubt the guy in the Mr. Bear costume likes me like that."
"Ah." Linsey linked arms with me. "I think you're cute Dobule J."
"Should you really call Double J that? Isn't that kind of like an insult?" Roger was on my other side.
"Okay, look you two, I'm going. Please don't bother me."
Linsey released me. "See you around Double J. Good luck with Mr. Bear!" I threw my shoe at her.
He was handing balloons out in his bear suit like always. I hung back waiting for the crowd of kids to go. I tapped my foot uneasy. He only had one balloon left.
When the last child left, I went over. "Hey, Mr. Bear."
We sat down. "So guess what?"
"You're going to bitch about some problem like you do everyday?"
I slapped his arm. This was a big mistake. Blood dripped through the bandage around my hand.
Mr. Bear had a hard time, but some how he managed to grab my wrist in his bear paw. "What the hell happened?"
I pulled away, hugging my hand to my chest. "It's nothing. Just an accadent." I'm sure he looked sad under that mask. "That's not why I"m here though." I dug through my bag and pulled out today's math test. "Ta-da! I got a 75."
He nodded patting my head. "Impressive. It seems to be your best yet."
I smiled. "When I was little, I use to get 100 all the time."
"Yeah, but elemanrary stuff is easy."
We both laughed at that.
"Don't ruin my feeling good moment." I slapped his arm.
"I'm sorry, that was rather mean."
"But the truth." I looked down at my feet.
Mr. Bear patted my head again. "Good job on that score though."
A soft smiled came back. "Thanks." I leaned my head on his furry costume. It was so soft. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders. I could have fallen asleep if it wasn't for my damn cell phone.
I stood up. "It seems I have to go." I started to walk away.
"Hey!" Mr. Bear's call caused me to turn around.
"What? I'm kind of in a hurry."
He tied his last balloon around my wrist, the one not attached the to injured one. "For being smart."
My eyes went up to the green rubber floating above my head. Then they fell back to Mr. Bear. "I'm not a little kid."
"I know, so give it to someone else." I don't know why, but I had the feeling he whinked at me. "It'll be a good deed."
This made me laugh. "A good deed? Please, I'd rather pick up trash."
"Well, you can do that too."
I got on my toes and kissed his bear head. "Good-bye moron."
My feet started to walk away. I craved for him to stop me agian, but his voice never came.
The balloon floated into the night sky, free from my hand. I watched it float up higher and higher. I made a reach for it, but slowly pulled back. I am no balloon. I do not fly. I do not float. I am grounded.
I breathed out a deep sigh listening to the city's noises. The sounds of cars. The sounds of people arguing. I think a baby just stopped crying and was replaced by a woman. Someone might have called my name, but I'm not sure. I could go look, but I won't. I want to stay here.
He was handing balloons out in his bear suit like always. I hung back waiting for the crowd of kids to go. My hand itching like crazy. I suppse that's how you know it's healing.
The final little brat was gone. Today, Mr. Bear came to me. "Here again I see."
I nodded. "I'm here everyday. It's like a ritual."
He was probably smiling behind that bear head. "It seems that way sometimes." The cheery mood in his voice was gone. "What the hell happened to your face?"
I shrugged. "Nothing, just like yesterday."
He grabbed my chin. "This isn't nothing. You're coverd in bruises and they're yellow."
My face pulled back. "Like I said, nothing."
"Is someone hurting you?"
"Are you hurting yourself?"
"No reason to."
"What about bullies? Any problems with them?"
"I haven't been bullied since the second grade."
"Then you must be getting into fights."
I shook my head. "Your imagination is getting the better of you Mr. Bear." I wagged my finger in his face. "I'm not some kind of trouble maker. I'm a poor student, but I have manners."
To my surprise, he released his remaining balloons and pulled me into a hug. "You are such a mysterius kid."
My eyes traveled up to the escaping balloons. "They're getting away."
"Forget about those. We have a bigger problem."
"You've been talking to me for almost a month now and I've learned things about you that I could have lived without knowing."
"Did I really?"
"For five seconds, just shut up." He almost sounded angry. "I've listened to
you this whole time. Every story, every little problem you think you have and."
"I lied." That stopped him mid sentence. "Everything I've basically told you has been a lie. Nothing more then a story."
I pushed myself away from him looking in his bear costume's eyes. I knew the real ones were just beyond them. "Mr. Bear, what if I told you I wasn't who you thought I was?"
"Then what are you?"
"I don't know any more." I shook my head. "But I'm not what you think I am."
"What are you talking about?"
"I don't know. I don't know what I'm doing or why. Everythings so." I looked down at my hands. "What is anyone doing?"
"Don't call me that!" I shouted. The high pitch of my voice hurt my ears. "I'm not a child. Don't treat me like one."
My cell phone rang telling me it was time to go. I turned on my heels and ran off hoping he would try and stop me, but deep down, I knew he wouldn't.
Linsey and Roger cornered me right after school. "Is it true?" Linsey's eyes were big. "Are you really moving away?"
I nodded. "Yes, my...mother got a new job."
"Well, that's too bad." Roger crossed his arms. "It seems like you just got here."
"I've been here long enough."
Linsey hugged me. "We're going to miss you Double J." She pulled away. "I feel for Mr. Bear."
"I highly doubt he's going to miss me."
Roger and Linsey looked at each other then me. "Well Double J, you're coming with us for a good-bye party." Roger grabbed my arm. "And we won't take 'no' for an answer."
I stood back farther then usual. I really didn't want to him to see me. With any luck the kids would keep him busy. My classmates had kept me longer then I wanted. Mr. Bear would be off the clock soon. It had taken all my nerves to come here just to see him one more time before I left.
I was about to leave when he called to me. "I was expecting you earlier then this."
"Things, things kind of got complicated."
"Did they now." Mr. Bear was beside me.
"I didn't make everything up." I shook my head. "Only some things."
He nodded. "Look, about the other day."
"Don't worry about it. Soon, I shall be out of your hair." A soft simle spread across my lips. "Or fur."
"What are you talking about? You're not leaving, are you?"
"All those injuries I've been getting have come from fights." I sighed.
"What does that have to do with you leaving?"
"My mother's leaving and I have to go with her. No matter what she does, she's still my mother and all."
"You're really leaving." Mr. Bear took my hand in his paw.
"Yeah, I never stay in one place for very long." I shook my head looking at the ground.
Mr. Bear squeezed my hand and I squeezed back. "I'm sure you'll stumble through again. I'll be waiting."
I turned to go, but he had not released my hand.
Neither of us moved.
I looked back over my shoulder. "Mr. Bear, can I take your head off?"
He chuckled softly, nodding.
My arms raised on their own, bracing my hands on either side of the fake head. Slowly, I lifted the head off.
"Getting picked was this flower's destiny." -Belenus (Valkyrie Profile)