Tina watched as the clown handed her daughter the balloon. Unlike her mother, Ellen didn’t mind the clown. It wasn’t that Tina was afraid of them, they just made her uneasy. Perhaps it was the grease paint that forced a smile on an otherwise grim face or maybe she just heard too many horror stories about clowns. They could be from outer space or from the sewer, it didn’t matter. She just didn’t like them. Ellen couldn’t be any happier, though. The little girl thanked him for the balloon and he was on his way without a word. Tina, though put off by the entire notion of clowns, praised the gift. The balloon was free and what kid doesn’t love a balloon?

As they were leaving the amusement park, Tina ran into one of the workers unloading boxes of carnival prizes, and told him to thank the clown for the balloon. This remark elicited a sideway glance as the worker stated that the amusement park didn’t employ any clowns. Tina laughed, thinking he was just joking, but just then Ellen made a remark.

“Mommy, something’s in my balloon,” She said. Tina, hearing this, turned to her daughter and saw that there was indeed something inside. She turned to the employee who grabbed a box cutter. With a quick slash, he popped the balloon sending a folded piece of yellow paper to the ground.

Tina, unfolding it, gasped. She demanded that the worker call the police. As the worker ran to speak with the manager, Ellen asked about the paper. Tina simply said it was nothing, hiding her building fear. As she waited for the police to arrive, Tina reread the words that were scribbled in a messy, uneven scrawl: See you soon, Ellen.