"Silver Lily" by Iris D.

A 2019 Young Writers Flash Fiction Contest Honorable Mention

IN THE SMALL MARKETPLACE of Shellkey, there was a silver balloon tied to a stake. No one knew how the balloon had never deflated, but it didn’t matter. The oddest thing about the balloon was that it had a girl in it. Since the beginning of Shellkey, the girl had been there. She must have been light as a feather, because she didn’t sink the balloon at all. She had dark hair and a grey dress, and dark, deep eyes. She was christened Lily, and since the balloon was silver, everyone called her Silver Lily. People came to gawk at her every day, paying two pence a look. The sign by her wooden stake read:

Since the beginning of Shellkey!
Airborne girl in a silver balloon
Two pence a look

Silver Lily knew how to read the sign. But she didn’t know what airborne meant. People talked about her every day. “She’s floating!” someone would say. “Of course,” the other would reply. “She’s airborne, you see!” They’d go away, laughing. Silver Lily didn’t know what airborne meant.

Then one sunny day, a girl came, one with two brown braids and a sky-blue dress. She read the sign and looked up at Silver Lily. She smiled. Silver Lily liked the smile. It was bright and full of life. “Airborne,” the girl said. “It means this.” She took off, through the air, into the clouds, and came back down again. And Silver Lily knew. She jumped. The balloon popped. She took off with the other girl and smiled. It felt good. The girl and her were airborne. No more stake. No more sign. And no more Silver Lily. Now she was Lily in the Clouds.

Since the beginning of Shellkey to 1989
Airborne girl