Jason Webley


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The boy with a balloon for a heart

There was once a boy with a balloon instead of a heart. At first the doctors were very optimistic, because the balloon seemed to function just like any ordinary heart. But after just a few days, everyone became very concerned. The boy’s heart had grown to three times its original size!

‘Surely he will explode!’ cried the doctors, ‘we must stop the growth of his heart immediately!’

And so the boy underwent a series of tests. He was brought to specialists, professors and experts. They connected him to machines that analyzed and inspected him in many ways. All the while his heart continued to grow bigger and bigger…

Finally, the doctors discovered the source of the problem. You see, whenever the boy saw something that made him happy, his heart would grow a bit. Whenever the boy saw something that made him sad, his heart would grow a bit. In short, whenever he experienced love, his heart would grow.

So the clever doctors built a clever machine and put the boy inside. The machine could carefully control everything the boy experienced. Nothing that could make him happy or sad could get past the machine. Nothing that could make the boy love could ever reach him.

Time passed. And with the help of the machine, the boy lived a long, long time. He lived for a long, long, long, long, long, long time. How many years did the boy live? Well, it would be hard to say. How could anyone dream of counting so high? He lived so long, the doctors grew old and died. He lived and lived while oceans rose and fell. He lived so long that the machine rusted and fell apart.

So one day, a little boy with a balloon instead of a heart went out into the world for the first time.

The first thing he saw was the blue sky. He smiled and his heart grew a bit. Then he saw a bird flying by. And again his heart grew. And his smile and his heart kept getting bigger and bigger. Trees, clouds, crickets, falling leaves, spider webs – each thing delighted him and filled his heart. More and more. His chest got bigger and bigger.

Down in their graves, the doctors must have been cringing. The boy’s heart had swollen out of control! Only seconds must be left before he would explode into a horrible bloody mess!!

But the boy never exploded. His heart just grew bigger and bigger. And lighter and lighter.

Until he simply floated away.