I finally caught up to it before it did anymore damage. I could hear Noah and my girlfriend screaming things behind me. But… I couldn’t be bothered to listen. The lantern was flapping viciously in a wind that I didn’t even realize existed when we started this whole thing. Flames were shooting and flaring in every which direction. At that point, I had one goal. Get that thing out of my face before my face became the bottom side of a Denny’s flapjack.
I held the fiery mayhem in front of me as long as I could. The lantern filled with hot air again. And this time, it slowly started lifting into the air.
It didn’t go straight up this time, either. At all.
Again, the wind took it, and it went straight toward the roofs of the townhomes in front of us.
This was serious, folks.
This flying floating thing was a massive ball of fire.
And that ball of fire suddenly got bigger as the flame caught the sides of the lantern.
And there was nothing I could do except helplessly watch and start planning a hundred different ways to launch myself onto that four-home roof to stomp out what would soon be known as the Utah fires of 2014.
At the last possible moment, an updraft picked the lantern up and carried it into the sky. The homes were safe.
The lantern lifted higher. And higher. And higher.
This was when I looked over at my girlfriend and my child. Noah was screaming frantically as my girlfriend stomped out the now enflamed grass.
And I took a sigh of relief. No injuries. Nothing burned down.
I looked up again at the lantern which was sitting high in the sky, beautiful and red.
It started coming down.
And it started coming down fast.
Now, it was a good thing that it was so high up because it gave it time to finally snuff itself out on the way down.
It was also a bad thing that it was so high up because all three of us stood terrified for the longest time as we watched this flaming ball of fire head back down to earth, sure to land on another building somewhere, or a dry field, or a sweet baby in a baby carriage (let’s be honest, with how things were going that was the most likely scenario).
This was not going to end well.
“Is it out?” we kept saying as the flame kept disappearing into the blackness of the night for the smallest moments.
The flame would keep reappearing with a vengeance. “Nope, still going” we’d all say in unison.
“Please go out. Please go out. Please go out.” If I wasn’t saying it, I was thinking it. Hard.
Finally, about a hundred feet above the ground, the flame extinguished completely and our fears were qualmed. We heard no sirens in the moments that followed. We saw no smoke filling the sky. Disaster averted.
And I felt sheepish.
And we laughed some more.
In the end, my girlfriend told me, “I think we learned our lesson.”
I told her, “yep.” And I got on the internet and ordered an entire box of sky lanterns because… well… they’re pretty friggin’ cool.
Just don’t try any of that at home.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing