Sun Red Memories of Fire

I leaned over the railing, watching the red-orange sun as it dropped below the trees in the distance. Seeing familiar sights in new surroundings is a sublime pleasure. Even if you wouldn’t know it by looking at me, I’m inevitably introspective when I recognize such truths. Below, excited kids and one unsupervised Dad continued to bend and light an array of fireworks. Some of the pyrotechnics were small, others were cacophonous grenades, ones which exploded with such force that the l-shape of the building almost bent with the sound waves produced. Occasional squeals and constant happy commentary punctuated the evening. The air was permeated with the pungent and welcomed clouds of gunpowder smoke. The hybrid mix of sight, sound, and scent took me back to many of my youthful days and nights with fireworks. As is the case in so many Southern families, even those populated with violence and addiction, fireworks were a common denominator that brought many of us happiness. The possibility of losing a finger or an eye was no greater than the risk of simply being part of the family. As I watched the kids participate on the cooling cement below, I hoped they’d one day remember this. Several of the kids had dangerously clambered up on the back of a minivan, their legs dangling and kicking. Whether anyone of us realized it or not, we’d formed an impromptu community, one flung together by the beauty and violence of fireworks. When I looked back toward the horizon where the sun hid, I found that night had fallen, surreptitiously and totally. I breathed deeply and inoculated myself against loneliness by filling my lungs with the acrid smoke filling the air. I could get used to this, knowing that life can be a kick in the shins but also a present for the moment if you’re receptive. It’s impossible to know who is making new memories, even as they blink away the unhelpful past that tells us we don’t deserve more moments. I took mine with me and even now, trying to express my love for the moment, I feel the acrid scent of fire in my lungs.

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