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Hot pink, hot air | Lisa Scottoline

Trying to live in these times isn’t easy.I feel it, and I know you do, too.

Good things can happen.

Right out of the blue.

I say this because a hot-air balloon just flew over the house.

Of course I realized it wasn’t a balloon, but a metaphor.

This is what happens when you’re a writer in a pandemic.

To explain, I was in the house working, which means that I was fussing over a page.

All morning.

Sometimes writing goes well, and sometimes it’s like giving birth.

Only harder.

It takes me nine months to write a novel.

I’m not even kidding.

Anyway, all of a sudden, I heard a really distinctive sound, which you would recognize if you’ve ever had a hot-air balloon fly over.

It sounds like a dragon breathing fire.

But a good dragon.

Like a big whoosh, and I don’t know the physics of what’s actually happening and it doesn’t matter anyway.

I jumped into my clogs and ran outside, and there it was, a balloon flying right over my head.

If you’ve never seen a balloon up close, it’s startling how large they are. It’s almost the size of a house flying over your house, and you almost can’t believe it’s happening.

You start to laugh.

Plus it was hot pink, my favorite color, covered with red, orange, and blue stripes and bright-green vines sprouting oversize flowers.

It was glorious.

And so the balloon was flying over me, and I started running, which I no longer do unless I’m being chased by someone with a knife, but all of a sudden, when a big, pink balloon floats overhead, it’s just an impulse, and all of a sudden everybody’s having a great time.

I yelled to the balloon, “Hello!” which I always do, and the most remarkable thing about hot-air balloons is that the people inside the basket can hear you, and then a man yells down:

“What’s for dinner?”

Now this must be the same balloon company because the same man always yells this down, and I yell back:

“Whatever you’re making!”

This is the closest I’ve come to love in recent memory.

And then the balloon started to land in the field next to mine, so I ran over to watch.

And it descended slowly, breathing its wonderful fire, and the people were laughing, and I took pictures from my backyard as they climbed out of its basket, laughing and laughing, and suddenly a white van came out of nowhere, and I realized they were ending the trip and going to deflate the balloon.

They all started running around and pulling on the ropes as the balloon struggled to remain aloft, finally agreeing to be tethered, then starting to crumple slowly, like it was nodding off; and in no time the balloon was asleep.

When I went inside I knew exactly how to finish the page.

I don’t know how far this metaphor may take me, but let me try:

These are hard times.

Many things are not going well.

I’m speaking mainly of the pandemic, which is on my mind all the time. COVID-19 is a dreadful disease, and people are falling sick and dying. Our television is full of spiking graphs and heartbreaking stories of victims. Worse, our news is full of information and disinformation, so much so that I fear we are losing sight of the sick, as well as the health-care workers sacrificing daily to save lives.

Trying to live in these times isn’t easy.

I feel it, and I know you do, too.

And many people feel it more acutely than I, because they have lost someone or have to work outside the home.

But once in a while, a balloon comes out of the clear blue, and all of a sudden you chase it for no reason whatsoever, laughing.

And even in the darkest of times, people climb into baskets and sail off.

I think there are things that ground us, and to be sure, they are wonderful:

Family, friends, house, dogs, cats, and carbs.

But there are also things that launch us.

At least in our minds.

I think I was able to finish my page because the balloon engaged my imagination. It took me out of my book, out of my house, and out of myself.

God gave us our imagination for a reason.

So maybe take a minute and imagine a balloon.

I hope I described it well enough to help.

Imagine anything that lifts you up.

And fly.

Look for Lisa’s first historical novel, “Eternal,” coming on March 23. Also look for Francesca’s debut novel, “Ghosts of Harvard,” on sale now.