HELIUM

 

As Steven and Mary strolled up the boardwalk past the miniature golf and french fry stands they came upon a man selling balloons. All around him small children were jumping and crying with glee, holding the balloons high above their heads. From time to time a balloon would escape and the children would look up at it with wonder as it ascended into the clouds. And Steven and Mary looked at each other, as if to say, can anything be more joyful than this? And they asked the man, "How do you make the balloons rise so?"

"I fill it with a colorless, inert gas called Helium. Watch." Putting his mouth to the nozzle, he filled his lungs with the gas, and as he spoke his voice became squeaky like a duck, and Steven and Mary toared with laughter. Their hearts filled with joy and mirth, they strolled down to the water, where they found a great sea turtle lying dead upon the shore, and they were overcome with sadness. Just then a bathysphere rose from the depths, and out climbed a marine biologist.

"How did this great old turtle die?", they asked him.

Prying open the turtle's jaws, he pulled out a chrome mylar balloon. "It was this. He must have thought it was a jellyfish, his favorite food, then he choked on it. I see it all the time."

And then, as Steven and Mary walked away, wondering how things that bring such joy to some could bring such sadness to others, a great storm cloud covered the sky, obscuring the newly-fused, heat-emitting, Helium atoms, dancing on the surface of the Sun.

 

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