The party had been good, but not as good as the silver and blue superhero balloon that he was given at the end. His mum wound it around his wrist a few times so it wouldn't blow away, for balloons had been lost before, and there were always tears.
As they walked home, the wind picked up until both the boy and his mum were bent into it. It tugged at their clothes and messed with their hair, and pulled the balloon out and away behind him.
Oh, oh no! Oh!
His mum held one hand, the balloon held the other, but the balloon won and up, up, up the boy went. He was, it has to be said, a bit scared, but he managed a brave wave and his mum waved back – 'be home for tea!' she called, before a mighty gust of wind took him up above the rooftops and past a perplexed seagull, who squawked crossly to see a boy in a place where a boy shouldn't be. He stuck his tongue out at the seagull and the wind whipped him away.
He could see the silver grey sea, and the boats far out on the waves, and below him people and dogs looked up as he floated, waving, over their heads.
The balloon carried him toward the hills as if it knew where it was going. He left the town behind and instead of people looking up at him, surprised cows and horses mooed and neighed in greeting. And then, hidden in a deep valley, was the most amazing sight he'd ever seen; thousands upon thousands of escaped balloons, all bobbing and meeting and bumping; round ones and long ones and funny-animal ones, some with writing on, or numbers, yellow and blue and cherry red and gold.
The boy unwound his balloon and bobbed around with them for the rest of the afternoon. Sometimes he thought he heard other children, laughing and squealing with delight, but he never saw them, and gently the balloons bounced him up and down, some sighing as they deflated, new ones arriving all the time.
How he would have liked to stay with these friendly balloons. But the sun dropped and the wind picked up again, and the superhero balloon found him for the return journey.