The Balloon

God was a balloon in my dream, but everything else was normal. I was walking along the high street, among the shoppers, holding on to the string of this great big sky-blue balloon.

‘What is it I’m supposed to be looking for?’ I said.

‘Creativity,’ said the balloon. It didn’t actually speak, but I knew what it meant, just like I knew it was smiling even though it didn’t have a face.

I looked around. There was a busker playing God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen on the sax. That was creative. There was Waterstone’s with its window full of books. There was a poster for the pantomime. The balloon bobbed above my head. I could feel it noticing me noticing these things, and waiting. Waiting for more, waiting for me to get it, almost chuckling to itself.

There was a cartoon pony on a little girl’s sweater. That was creative. That was art.

‘Yes, and?’ said the balloon.

‘Well, the colour of what she’s wearing, the purple, that’s a creative choice. And the shape of it. I mean, somebody invented the sweater. We didn’t just skin a sweaterbeast.’

Now the balloon was definitely chuckling, there over my head. I could feel its pure delight in me. It put a balloon-bounce in my step and I pranced on, talking nineteen to the dozen, like a child showing off to grown-ups.
‘All the clothes, everything everyone’s wearing, that’s design, that’s creative. The buildings, that’s architecture. The cars. Even the rubbish on the street, those were all things that somebody designed. The way that woman’s wearing her hair, that’s definitely creative. Even speech. All these people talking – every word is something somebody made up.’ I realised I had tears in my eyes. ‘Human creativity is everywhere. You can’t look at humans without seeing it. You can’t listen to humans without hearing it. It’s us. It’s what we are. I mean, you’d have to go to a mountain in the middle of nowhere to look around without seeing creativity…’

‘Oh?’ said the balloon, and I could feel it smiling. A vision of a mountaintop rose up in my head, the rocks and turf and tiny mountain flowers under my feet, the wind, the million greens and greys and browns of the landscape spread out around me in intricate detail, the misty shades of distance, the light and shadow, the shapes of the clouds. Snow in the wind, snowflakes settling on my coat, unique patterns winking at me for a second before melting.

‘…Oh.’ Now I was really crying. In the street. ‘It’s what you are, too.’

‘Now you get it,’ said the balloon.

‘Made in your image, huh?’

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