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The knot slipped loose and the ribbon fell from her wrist. The balloon floated away, horizontally at first, blown by the breeze down the sidewalk. It bobbed and twirled, shopping the bakery window for indulgent fudge and admiring the schiffli lace gown that called though the glass of the corner boutique. And then it rose, dancing high in the sky to the footsteps of the pursuing mother and to the cries of the child who once possessed it.

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