THE SECRET STORIES OF ST. JEAN - The Last Balloon

Only someone who has lived in St Jean a long time would recognise the signs. The forced smiles, gritted teeth and wild eyes, the thunderstorm that always follows the festival like clockwork in the sky. The odd tear shed amid the thousands of cheering voices as the lively crowds bid farewell to the couple in the last balloon, a sea of waving hands like branches of the trees.

A visitor or a newcomer might not notice how the festival splits the town in two. Half busy themselves with making fickle pops and toffee gingers to sell, putting together firecrackers to shoot for a nickel, stitching their trademark onto their dresses for the pageant. The rest aren’t so eager, either because they know the truth or because they suspect something: smell an odd scent in the air, a funny taste in the apple tarts. As I said, only someone who has lived in St Jean a long time would recognise the signs. The only question is, do you figure out the mystery of the last balloon before the festival this year? After all, the 100th anniversary of the Festival de Montgolfiers always did promise to go down in history.

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