When their mother made fizzy water in the afternoons, the children always watched, crushed against her legs as she pressed down on the white box and the bubbles roared out.
The children were not to use the appliance. If they wanted fizzy water, they could ask Mother or Daddy to help them. This afternoon, their mother had stepped out to the store, saying she’d be right back and to be very good while she was gone. But the two children wanted fizzy water, now. They wanted it very much, and no one was home, and it was all they could think about. They resisted, and wrung their small hands, and when they could resist no more, the boy considered. He had watched Mother make the fizzy water many times.
The boy could reach the appliance on the counter, so he fetched the special bottle and attached it to the machine. Beside him, his sister bounced on the balls of her feet, chattering about which flavoring they should add. Cran-raspberry.
Ew, the boy said absently as he pressed down on the top of white box. The bottle popped off the machine and whizzed around the room like a balloon. The children screeched with laughter. Bubbles of air continued to expel from the appliance into the kitchen.
What the boy had forgotten, of course, was to put water in the bottle first. He had assumed the fizzy water was inside the machine, waiting to come out. He removed his hand, but the bubbles kept coming.
Look! the girl said.
Her feet were being lifted off the ground. The kitchen was filling up with CO2 bubbles. The boy’s feet, too, were being pushed up. Brother and sister both floating. Soon they reached the ceiling, and they discovered the fizzy water bubbles were not good for breathing. The boy dove into the air bubbles and swam to the window. He opened it, and at once the bubbles escaped into the fresh air, multiplying ever faster.
The boy grabbed the girl’s hand and together they pushed themselves out of the window. Instead of floating gently to the ground as the boy had planned, they found themselves riding clouds of air bubbles higher and higher into the air. The girl clapped her hands, delighted again, as the house shrank to the size of a lego, then grew smaller still.
They continued to ascend, and the air became colder. They tried popping the bubbles beneath them so they could drift to the ground, but whenever one was popped, three appeared in its place. The two children clung to each other for warmth, and sailed.
Shannon St. Hilaire lives in Portland, Oregon. She serves on the board of directors for an arts organization, The People’s Colloquium, and is an editor of their anthology. Her work has been published in Entropy, X-R-A-Y, Déraciné, and VoiceCatcher. She can be found online at http://www.shannonsthilaire.com.
Image via Pixabay