What she liked best about the Fourth of July fireworks was the cloud underneath the illumination as the breeze blew the smoke away and the next firework lit up the space where the previous fireworks used to be. In the churning smoke she saw, for an instant, Michelangelo’s masses and curves of Dawn and Night in the Tomb of Lorenzo de Medici. Who had the confidence, even arrogance, to plan his own tomb? In another instant she saw a whale sailing the sky. She would herself like to ride that bucking whale. The children ooh-ed and ah-ed when a particularly large firework exploded or a rapid sequence of small ones. The sound of the explosions thumped on her chest.
Alan was recording the event with his new digital camera. She saw three or four people around them doing the same.
“This is a great little camera,” Alan said. “Look at this–even in the dark, with no tripod.”
She agreed that the colors were vivid. But it really was not the same thing. The screen was a four-inch rectangle. But the real sky was all around her, so that she had the sensation of floating.
After nearly fifteen years of marriage, Alan could read her mind. “I know that you’re thinking I should just be watching the moment. Well I am. I’m pointing this and I’m watching too.”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“And I’m trying this out for the wedding.”
They were going to their niece’s wedding the next week. A spectacular blue ring exploded, and the crowd cheered. A yellow peony followed and lit up the billowing smoke underneath. The presenters followed that with a smiley face. She laughed at the cheesiness and wit.
Let Katy and Gavin have a full, happy, layered life filled with fireworks and marble statues and whales in the sky. Let them have the sharpness of the smoke smell and the strong feeling of the sound against their bodies. Let them hold their breath in wonder and laugh at the release of the light. Let them sleep with a sweet slumber and wake to a happy dawn. Let them have the stars above and the stars below.
Cezarija Abartis' Nice Girls and Other Stories was published by New Rivers Press. Her stories have appeared in Per Contra, Pure Slush, and New York Tyrant, among others. She participates on ShowMeYourLits.com and Zoetrope.com. Her flash, “The Writer,” was selected by Dan Chaon for Wigleaf’s Top 50 online Fictions of 2012. “History,” published by The Lascaux Review, was chosen as April Story of the Month by The Committee Room. Recently she completed a novel, a thriller. She teaches at St. Cloud State University. Her website is http://magicmasterminds.com/cezarija/.