B is for Balloon Bravura

Day 2 of the challenge!

My theme is NIFTY NUGGETS. Little nuggets of writing based on a photo, a phrase and an object, which is designed to encourage lean, tight writing. I’m aiming for a word count of under 300 words.

Thank you to L.Diane Wolfe for providing the beautiful photo prompts. You can visit her blog to check out more pictures.



PHRASE – burning the midnight oil

OBJECT – stethoscope

No son of mine is going to be a drop out.
What will the neighbours think?
Always do what your parents expect of you. Donโ€™t ever let them down.
Itโ€™s a family tradition. You come from a line of doctors. Your grand-uncles and grandfather practised medicine.

Motherโ€™s voice drones on. Her obsession fills his ears.

It becomes one with the endless grind of studies. A certificate. A degree. Burning the midnight oil chasing a dream that belongs to another, finally falling asleep exhausted, and slipping into a nightmare in which youโ€™re the victim of a slow and painful torture, being choked to death by a stethoscope around your neck. Drenched in perspiration, you wake up.

It becomes too much. Time to make your own decision.

Mother goes into a state of pill-popping depression.

The vacancy at the events company for a hot air balloon tour guide is still available.
Bold designs colour the sky… splashes of stripes, diagonal and geometrics that blaze above and beat a sterile environment anyday. Up and away, they dot the atmosphere, promising freedom, to be what you want to be.

At home you are faced with the frail image of mother sleeping. You pick up the stethoscope, put it to your ears… hear the steady thump of your rebellious heart protesting… a heart ballooning in firm resolve.


  1. Alex J. Cavanaugh on April 2, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Cool photo.
    You have to follow your own heart, not another’s.

  2. L. Diane Wolfe on April 2, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    I would’ve loved to be a balloon tour guide.

    That photo is from our very first Int’l Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, NM, and still one of my favorite shots.

    • Michelle Wallace on April 3, 2015 at 10:56 am

      You captured the fiesta vibe in a special way. Beautiful shot!

  3. C. Lee McKenzie on April 2, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Ha! Here’s to the dreamer and the one who strikes out on his own path.

  4. Hilary on April 2, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Hi Michelle – another great photo of Diane’s .. to give your imagination over to Balloon Bravura .. well I’m glad he got away .. and was really able to go up, up and away .. we can’t be influenced by others .. cheers Hilary

    • Michelle Wallace on April 3, 2015 at 10:59 am

      Exactly, Hilary!
      Each individual has to forge his own path…

  5. Peaches Ledwidge on April 2, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    Love, love the story and the picture you provided.

  6. Patricia Lynne on April 2, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Great story.

  7. Mary Aalgaard on April 2, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    Colorful and free. That’s what I want to be, too.

    • Michelle Wallace on April 3, 2015 at 11:01 am

      Colorful and free – that’s how I’d imagine you to be! It suits you.

  8. Julie Flanders on April 2, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Your writing is always so powerful. The photo is wonderful and your story is a perfect fit. I hope this boy ends up following his heart and applying for the guide job.

    • Michelle Wallace on April 3, 2015 at 11:02 am

      Thanks for the wonderful compliment, Julie.
      I appreciate it. ๐Ÿ˜€

  9. Nilanjana Bose on April 2, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    Ooh yes, definitely rather a balloon and free than a stethoscope choking a neck. Cool photo.


  10. KC Kendricks on April 2, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Interesting blurb. Who gave Mother the pills? hmmmm.

    #31 on the 2015 A to Z list

    • Michelle Wallace on April 3, 2015 at 11:21 am

      Aha! I love your train of thought… exactly the kind of ‘twist’ that appeals to me!

  11. Sara C. Snider on April 3, 2015 at 6:33 am

    This is a great story! I’m glad he followed his heart, Mother will get over it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Medeia Sharif on April 3, 2015 at 7:15 am

    It does sound like a freedom. Wonderful piece.

  13. Rosie Amber on April 3, 2015 at 7:41 am

    Lovely piece of writing.

  14. Susan Gourley on April 3, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    There is something uplifting about the grace of hot air balloons and it conflicts so perfectly with the trapped unhappiness of the protagonists.

  15. Nadine Feldman on April 3, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Beautifully done! Too many parents still place more importance on what the neighbors think than the needs of their children’s souls.

    • Michelle Wallace on April 5, 2015 at 11:13 am

      Wise words, Nadine!
      Thank you for the thoughtful comment. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Beverly (@Bevimus) on April 5, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    In a strange way, this reminds me of a non-joke my father sued to love telling me about a boy who, no matter how old he got or how many things he accomplished, only ever wanted a little red ball. I think the moral of the joke was that he waited forever for someone to give it to him instead of getting it for himself. At the end of the day we have to be comfortable with our decisions because we are the most unforgiving when we make the wrong ones.

    • Michelle Wallace on April 5, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      A simple story to illustrate the long-term impact of decision making… very effective. ๐Ÿ™‚

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