July 4th: Fireworks

Everywhere I looked, people sat on balconies. Their arms and hands and legs dangled over the edges, waving and kicking and drunk. The sun blazed down and reddened their skin and it added to the festive fervor of the day. They cat-called me and I looked up at them and smiled awkwardly – the only way to smile when one is alone – and I continued on my way to nowhere.

On my way home from nowhere, it was dusk and mosquitoes swarmed around my knees, wrists and on the back of my cellulite thighs. I didn’t bother swatting them away. The sky was hot blue and tinted with streaks of moon; it was too light for fireworks yet, but they were set off anyways. They exploded and popped all around me and I could hear the balcony-sitters, their hands clutching drinks and cigarettes, screaming their lungs out – at me, at the fireworks; screaming so the night knew where to land.

I sat down on the curb. It was the only place to sit. I looked up from my perch into the sky. Mosquitoes swirled around my head now, like confetti; fireworks lit my face up with orange, green, red, yellow, purple; some of them were silent until they exploded into vibrant darts; some of them screamed like screeching tires as they rose up into the air shooting a corkscrew of colour behind them; I could smell smoke everywhere – gun smoke, tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke, barbeque smoke.

People passed by me, looking down as they passed. I didn’t look back at them; I only heard their thudding, slapping sandals on the pavement as I gazed alone into the night as the fireworks called out to me, their voices shrill and angry, threatening, excited, warning.

As they died down, I stood up. I began walking. The arms and hands and legs kept waving like flags; a mosquito buzzed right in my ear and I felt goosebumps on my extremities. It was the only time that day when I felt cold.

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