Originally published in Mudluscious
They met in a park as children. It was a late summer afternoon. His balloon sword was green, hers red. They stood opposing each other in the grassy park center, near the playground. He raised his balloon sword, then charged, thrusting his weapon at her heart. She winced and tried to defend herself by waving her red balloon sword back and forth in front of her face. But he used the sun setting behind him to his advantage. He ducked, blinding her momentarily, and his thrusting green sword struck home. Still holding her sword in one hand, she fell backward onto the grass, closed her eyes, and rested her free palm on her chest.
Years later, each time the battle was replayed without balloons, he would recall the dry heat of that summer afternoon when they were still children. He recollected the chiming of a passing ice cream truck. He remembered the flitting shadow of a bird crossing over her pale face. And he would wonder, again and again -- how different things might have been if he hadn’t discarded his green balloon sword to drop onto his knees, just so he could see if her heart had really been pierced.