A Balloon's Hapless Love for a Lamp

Image of Long Story Short Award - 2022
Image of Short Fiction
I used to be shiny. I used to be plump. I used to be ready to bounce and float to my heart's content. I was made to please: blown up with the air of a smiling clown, and twisted to become an animal of choice, given to the child with wide eyes. The child would hold me and save me, a souvenir for the exciting day of lights and twisting rides. But now I sit, cradled by dust, amongst the unread books and the unused tissue boxes–a deflating piece of decor. I am now dull, the dust covering me like a blanket of snow, but not the kind which melts into a brilliant spring, but rather the sludge that melts and leaves your car covered in stains. And my legs, before full and round, sit wrinkled and barely able to hold up my weight. Even my ears, which were perky and excited, have fallen like a sad puppy's, simply wanting attention. I am stationary on a shelf, and soon, I will merely be a piece of dark, abandoned latex–scrunched, flat, and uninteresting, but I see you and want your attention as you sit in the corner, constantly shining.
The day I was placed on the shelf, I was given the perfect view of you. You sat in the corner: a brass pole with a gorgeous hat, shaped in order to shade the brilliant sphere of light inside you. Sometimes, I wish you would just let that light out and blind the world with your radiance. But you are decorated by that hat, covered in pearls and tassels, the size of your hat giving you a sort of dominance in the room filled with an assortment of aesthetics. Your brass continues to shine alongside the bulb resting atop the pole.
I crave to be closer to your beauty. A shelf sits just beside you filled with snow globes, each with an individual winter cityscape. I should be among them, a souvenir from places traveled to, places where smiles were brought and eyes widened in amazement. But instead I sit among words meant to look vintage and unique–a value of look rather than knowledge. I sit among the dust which has become a piece of decoration as this shelf sits unbothered and unnoticed. I sit on a shelf where eyes are never laid, so how will I ever catch your attention? How will I ever tell you of the love which fills me but slowly leaks out the longer I sit on this stale shelf? I yearn to be near you but I cannot be placed closer to you by myself. So, I imagine the great love we would share together and the conversations we would have...
"You are the light of my life and I know your light will shine forever and ever," I would say.
"And I will continue to shine: a beacon directing you my love in the darkness," you would say.
"Did you see the sunset today? It shined your pearls gold and your brass became fire."
"I did see it. It reflected on your rubbery form and your wrinkles became flat, and you glistened as you did the day you arrived."
Yes, it's cliche... but what else can you do when you are in love? I wish I could shout to you. I wish I was filled with helium so I could float over to you. But I continue to be stuck on this shelf, getting smaller and smaller and wrinkles becoming more defined. I sink into the books I rest upon and nothing can stop time, and nothing can seemingly bring me to you so I may express my love.
So the days stretch on. I watch as you remain, your light constantly radiating through your dressings: pearls glowing, tassels and fringe dripping from your frame. I want to be closer to you. I want to admire you and your details while resting my head against your slick brass, staring into the brightness about. I want to get to know you better and to know your story. Are you an heirloom? A gift? Something new? Something borrowed? How long have you been sitting here lighting this room? Do you like it here? Do you like the people who shuffle back and forth in this living area?
But the room remains silent and stagnant besides the occasional form coming to sit for a while. The thrum of the air conditioning occasionally disrupts the silence, and as the air leaks through my latex membrane, the lukewarm air takes it further from me and disperses it into the room. If only I had power over the air I used to own, then I would be able to always be with you, always be circulating around you. The air current feels a bit stronger these past days though; my body has become less stable and more susceptible to the elements around me. And sure enough, one blast of cold air hits me hard enough that my face now sits against the pages of books–
All I can see are pages.
The pages take up all of my vision no matter how hard I try to look left or right. My body now awkwardly rests against dust covered pages, yellowed overtime. And my love, my light... I cannot see you. I cannot see the bright light or the polished red metal or the cream shade which rests over your head.
Air seems to slip quicker out of me and my only reason to retain what little fills me has slipped from my gaze as I cannot see your light. So, my wrinkles depress deeper and deeper inward. My latex becomes further faded and stained, stretch marks scared on my once glossy color. I can feel my limbs becoming useless and my form slowly coming together as a crumpled piece of paper. I sit on the shelf, an image of time fading away, of a broken heart, and memory forgotten.
After a few more days of sinking into the spines of the books, my form gets lifted off of the dust ridden decor. My face finally sees the room again, even though my color has changed to something more somber, dust clings to my skin, and my body sags in the fingers of the form which holds me.
But across the way I see you. I see your light shining across the room. I almost feel myself inflate a bit with the rush of love as I believe that I may finally be closer to you. These fingers might bring me to you.
But then I am moving further away from your light.
I am taken out of the room, and as I am I watch you, in hopes that you'll call out to me, help me, something. And as I am moving through the doorway, I swear I see your light flicker.
Was that flicker a sign? Was that flicker an attempt?
But I continue moving away from the place I assumed was my home. I am taken to a place with tiles and shiny chrome. Then a can comes into view, a plastic bag wrapping around the inside of the plastic container. Scraps lie within the cavern below, shadows dark and suffocating.
Through my vision, I catch my last glance of brass, of sparkling cream and a light which seems dimmer. And then my body is falling. My limp latex drifting through the air to the darkness below. This is the end. My wrinkles expansive and the air completely sucked from my twisted body. The light shudders again behind your decorated shade. Right before I pass the lip of the plastic can below, your light flickers out. I then hit the scraps below, and darkness consumes me.