The balloon lifts, the rope, umbilical cord, dangles, tightens and burns my hand in a black glove as it finally falls. We wave goodbye to faces that quickly lose their features. The pilot, face wet with sweat that runs through the iron-filing stubble of his cheek as his chameleon silk shirt changes from white to orange to ice blue as he makes adjustments to the bottle of dragon’s breath. A woven basket beneath my feet - the thinnest of layers that lets in sky as I grip the pie crust edge and look down to see a railway line reduced to a Hornby set. Insect horses and trees, brittle as coral. We drift, the gas flowers, an intermittent furnace, plume of fire with the earth falling further and further away. It feels like dying or being born all at the same time until the basket bounces on grass and we are tilted, unceremoniously shaken out, jelly limbed and the complementary glass of clear champagne brings us back to earth again.