Children opened and slam-closed car doors. Everyone hurried to be first into the Church Activity Center.
"Colin? Did you bring your games?" one boy asked.
"Yes!" was the joyful answer.
"Hungry, Hungry Hippo too!" another joined in.
Saturday's Pizza and afternoon Fun had finally arrived!
Colin was the shortest boy in the group. He just had to win today’s bubble-making contest. It was time to show he was good at something.
He had practiced blowing bubbles all week. And today was his chance to win the special prize, a neat baseball glove.
Miss Silver was in charge of today’s activities. And two parents were helping.
“Let the games begin!” Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence shouted.
Children’s voices rose like a flock of scrambling geese. Stamping feet rushed for empty chairs, finally settling in at four tables.
Waiting for the contest to begin was the hardest part for Colin. Minutes passed slowly, like the tractor tilling a field nearby.
First, pizza was given out, followed by shuffling for drinks and other treats. Yes, snack time was definitely the best part of the afternoon.
Colin wished mom and dad would hurry. They should be here to see him win.
"Everyone in a straight line," Miss Silver finally said. Sixteen children charged across the floor. Each was given a piece of double bubble gum.
"Chew it well," she said. Her helpers, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence were also the judges. "Begin!" Miss Silver yelled.
Mouths chewed up and down. White teeth gleamed. Soon, everyone needed a second piece of gum.
Growing bubbles peeked from inside little mouths. Some popped out of larger mouths.
Colin chewed, and chewed. You could tell he had practiced, especially when he asked for a fourth piece. Chew…Blow. Chew…Blow. The mouthful of gum began to feel just right.
Huffing and puffing came from all corners of the room.
So far, Colin’s bubble was the largest. And he wanted everyone to remember his success for a long time.
"Here comes Colin," they would say, forgetting he was the class ‘shrimp.’
Everyone stopped blowing and simply stared. Colin’s bubble was larger than anyone ever saw.
"Okay Colin," Mrs. Lawrence said. "You can stop now. You win."
"That's right," her husband agreed.
Everyone clapped for Colin. He finally won something.
"D…DOOR!" he managed to mumble, pointing crazily. Children scattered like bowling pins.
Outside, Colin’ bubble grew larger, and larger. Suddenly, one foot lifted off the ground, then the other. He was floating!
His very large bubble acted like a hot air balloon.
Someone tried to hold a kicking leg. Another pulled on Colin’s foot. But a sudden blast of wind pushed both children to the ground.
Each ended up with one of Colin’s sneakers.
He was airborne and wobbled around the church parking lot. Back and forth he went.
"Stop blowing your bubble gum!" Miss Silver shouted through foghorn hands.
But Colin didn’t dare stop. He was fearful of falling, perhaps landing on someone’s head. But, if his huge bubble shrank to a smaller size, he could return to earth. It was worth a try. All this attention wasn't fun anymore.
At first everything worked fine. The huge bubble did get smaller. And he was dropping lower. Colin saw his parents, wishing he could be with them right now.
Winning the bubble gum contest didn't seem so important.
Mouthfuls of air kept getting into Colin’s tummy. And he began to grow. At first it was neat looking like the largest boy in his class.
His arms bulged. And his once thin legs looked awesome. May he could join the school’s football team.
Suddenly the large bubble went “FLOOP!” And sent him flipping and flopping across the sky. For a few moments, he was like a meteorite.
Colin floated in the air like an out of control airship.
"Blow the air out of your mouth!” everyone screamed.
Colin did, at first little mouthfuls, then a lot. He kept blowing until his body began to shrink. He drifted slowly downward, as air left his stomach.
Dad followed him around until Colin thumped into his arms. It was good to be in the middle of cheers, this time with happy ‘Thumps’ against his back.
If only he could get home and have a long snooze.
Being a bigger boy, or having the largest bubble wasn’t such fun. It was time to be himself just Colin.
And mom and dad were really glad.
* * *
© Richard & Esther Provencher 2008
Richard & Esther live in Truro, Nova Scotia. They have four children and five grandchildren. Their novel FOOTPRINTS is available from www.synergebooks.com. Both are busy in church work and community outreach. They welcome (adult only) feedback regarding their writing at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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