A soft pink ball of matter floated through the air, seeking attention. It had materialised at noon on a hot summer day, and as it hovered over the streets it vibrated gently, a soft patterning of light passing across its surface, so that it seemed to give off its own heat haze.
The ball gravitated towards a group of children playing by the river. They were building a dam and, utterly absorbed in their labour, they failed to notice the ball as it hovered above their heads. For several minutes it vibrated imploringly, tracing loops and figure-eights in the air, swooping into their line of sight. But if they noticed it at all they dismissed it as an insect, a trick of the light. The ball went on its way.
Mr. Carter was on his way home from work. He had just gotten off at the bus station, and as he stepped onto the sidewalk he loosened his collar and untied his tie. He wiped his brow, feeling the heat of the day. The ball floated in front of him, but Mr. Carter did not notice it, being preoccupied with his own thoughts. Though he had finished work he was already thinking of work again, and around this general concern there orbited thoughts of his family and his past, so that even as the ball whirled around him he paid it no mind.
Old Mrs. Wilson sat on her front porch smoking, listening to her fat sons and grandsons laughing in the living room behind her. The ball appeared and floated slowly towards her, its surface a vulnerable pink like a heart turned inside out. When Mrs. Wilson saw it she spat. In ninety-six years she had never wasted her time with trivial concerns.
The ball continued on its way. It appeared at a party, in an office building, at the Robinsons' dinner table. It hovered in front of televisions and computers, in front of children playing with a frisbee, in front of couples walking in the park. But the little apparition went unnoticed; everyone was too busy to give it any attention. It began to spin in desperate circles, emitting a high, flat sound like a dog whistle, waves of heat rising off its surface. As dusk fell it vanished with a pop, air rushing to fill the space of its absence.