213 - skin fact
f there ever was a day for adventure, it was surely today. Emily had excitement and fear pulsing through her veins even before she left her house. She checked the banner one last time, making sure she hadn't glossed over any mistakes. It looked good, so she carefully rolled it up and placed it in her canvas rucksack.
Her mother would have asked her where she was going. Since Emily was no good at lying, she quietly slipped out through the back door and side gate. Soon, her worn-out sneakers were kicking up dust on the road, her heart pounding.
The blue sky above was filled with nothing save the blazing sun. The walk was nearly a mile, but her excitement carried her, the distance withering away quickly. Only when she saw the balloons did she slow down.
Emily moved cautiously upon the dirt embankment that lined the large grassy field. She positioned herself to be hidden from any passersby on the road, even though it was desolate more often than not.
Lying down on the embankment, she surveyed the site. She saw a dozen or so hot air balloons in various states of readiness. Today was the local hot air balloon club's monthly outing, which was held on the third Saturday of any given month, weather permitting.
When she was little, Emily's father took her and her sister out to see the balloons from time to time. Emily had always loved the colors, especially the ones that were bright or looked like a rainbow.
One such rainbow balloon was present today, and it looked ready to launch. The decision on which balloon to commandeer, then, was an easy one.
Emily crept towards the small gathering of balloon enthusiasts. Remaining undetected was not terribly difficult. Fewer than thirty people were present, most of them absorbed in preparing their balloons or chatting with their fellow enthusiasts.
Security was lax because the club had never anticipated anyone attempting anything nefarious. They had not considered the lengths to which a desperate, lovelorn teenager might go.
Emily attracted nothing more but a fleeting glance in the corner of a few eyes as she navigated to the balloon that she wanted, which was blessedly unattended. She hopped into the basket and concealed herself, in case its owner returned.
Her plan was not thought out exceptionally well. She knew nothing about piloting hot air balloons, other than using the burner to make more hot air. She figured she would eventually find out some way to come back down.
Emily was unable to easily release the balloon from the ropes tying it to the ground. She had brought a small knife, and she managed to cut through three of the four tie-downs before someone finally noticed her.
By then, it was too late. The blade sliced through the last strand holding her to the ground, and she was quickly up and away.
The sense of flight was exhilarating, especially when mixed with the pursuit of love and the perpetration of crime. Emily heard shouting from the ground, and she knew that eventually there would be hell to pay. But she enjoyed the moment, and tried to figure out how to steer the balloon toward the beach.
The prevailing winds fortunately did most of the work for her, and she soon saw below her white sands littered with beachgoers enjoying the beautiful day. Emily hoped that her colorful balloon would catch their attention.
She knew the time was now or never. Retrieving the banner from her bag, Emily secured it to the side of the basket with some twine. She breathed nervously, and unfurled it.
Emily hoped that somewhere below, she was looking up.