Hot Air Ballooning at the Grand Hotel Melbourne

“I don’t do mornings, she slurred. “God Almighty! It’s not even dawn!”

“Get up, come on. It’ll be worth it. Trust me.”

Brian and his girlfriend were staying at the Grand Hotel Melbourne. It had been Brian’s idea. A weekend getaway would do them good. Louise hadn’t resisted, though it was all a bit out of character for Brian.

“C’mon. Up! Up! Up! Get dressed. No. Wear your nice dress. I’ve got a surprise.”

It was a struggle. The Grand Hotel Melbourne was famous for its ‘Legendary Grand Beds’. How1 bedroom loft 267x180 can a bed be soft and firm at the same time? How can you feel cocooned and floating together? The hotel had received so many inquiries they now offered the beds for sale.

It was a real effort rousing Louise.

The poor girl was still stumbling and confused by the time Brian harried her through reception and into a waiting minibus.

“What on earth is going on?” she asked.

Brian just pursed his lips in a ‘no-tell’ grin.

The minibus soon arrived at a large, open field. The first blushes of dawn were seeping into the dark sky. It was clear and crisp and soon to be beautiful day.

Brian took Louise’s hand and drew her from the bus.

“I’m starving,” she shivered, “and cold.”

He snaked an arm around her waist, “Come on.”

They walked into the field and around copse of trees. Before them a orange and brown striped hot air balloon was inflating. The burner’s flame warm on their faces.

hotairballon“Surprise!” A group emerged from behind the balloon: Her and Brian’s parents, sisters, a brother, friends. They stood around the couple handing them coffees and pastries and talking excitedly.

“What is going on?” Louise asked. “Why are you here?”

“It’s Brian’s idea. You two got away for the weekend, but he thought it would be nice if we did the hot air balloon ride together.”

Louise was grateful for the hot food. It was still dark. “Are you alright?” she asked Brian.

It was a fair question. Brian, normally so talkative, was very quiet. Plus he was bouncing with nerves. “I – um – flying,” he stumbled. “I’m not good with heights.”

“Since when? We’ve been dating for three years …”

“Oh, look,” her sister cut her off, ‘We’re ready to board.”

And board they did. It was only then Louise noticed how well dressed everyone was.

The balloon ascended so gently Louise wouldn’t have known they’d left the ground if she hadn’t seen it. They shifted with the air currents, like a cork in a slow stream, and rose to greet the dawn. Someone put a glass of champagne in Louise’s hand.

“Wow,” was all she said.

 Seeing the dawn from eight hundred meters above Melbourne is sublime. It gives you a new perspective on everything: The world, yourself – everything. Louise felt like she was leaving some part of herself on the ground.

It was very was quiet. That’s something no one ever says about hot air ballooning – the absolute silence when the burner is off – it seeps into your soul.

Louise turned to look at the others. They were all looking back, grinning like mad.

sunset_foreverShe felt a hand on her waist, turning her. At first she thought no one was there. Brian was on one knee.

“Louise Mary Knight,” He gazed into her eyes solemnly, “I love you, I want to be with you always.” She could feel a tiny tremor in his hand. “In the presence of our families and friends I ask you to marry me and be my wife.”

Louise felt the basket sway. Perhaps it was her? The vast city below them became blurry. There was no air.

She smiled.
She nodded.

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