Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fireworks

Another flash fiction piece revolving around the current holiday. Er... sometimes my flash is about expanding my horizons (like my creepy Halloween story), so for this one I tried something a teensy bit different than the usual. I had fun writing it, and hope you enjoy. In any case, happy Independence Day, everyone!

***

Fireworks

Gold light reflected off the water, dazzling and intense. Monica squinted against the glints of glaring red sunset, her legs kicking absently back and forth in the cool water. The summer before senior year. This time next year she'd be getting ready to go to college. Her life would be so different--

"Did you serve your cousins a plate of food?" Mom asked.

Monica grit her teeth. By 'cousins,' Mom meant her male cousins, of course. Their big 4th of July party turned her into servant-wench to the boys of her family, as usual. 


"Not yet," she called, then added in a muttered undertone, "Are their arms broken?"

Her mother gave her a suspicious glance. Monica kept her face neutral and scooped huge mounds of moist arroz con pollo onto two paper plates. Beside her, the gleaming vinyl fence wobbled, indicating someone trying to get in. 

"Hello? Anybody home?"

Carla was here! Monica dumped the half-filled plates of food in front of her cousins and rushed to open the gate. 


"Carla!" Carla was a year younger but they'd never even noticed. Their families used to live in the same apartment building, and years of being practically sisters couldn't be erased just because her mom bought a house in another zip code. 

"Thank goodness you're here," Monica said. 

Carla tucked her lustrous black hair behind her ears. "Barely! Eddie took for-freaking-ever getting ready."

Monica almost bit her lip at the mention of Eddie. Growing up together had meant a lot of things, including being the same age as Carla's big brother.

"Oh, this is from us," Carla said.

Monica took the giant box of fireworks and added it to the already enormous pile, grateful for the excuse to steady her breathing. Eddie. She'd worn her new red top today - the one with a row of tiny white flowers stitched along the bottom - in case he was coming. 

She adjusted her matching red head band. Okay. So, she and Eddie kissed last summer. And okay, it had been more than one kiss. It's not like they had become an official thing or anything... it had been a secret. Then last year with the move they'd gone to different high schools-- it was all craziness and they didn't really talk about it. But now that summer was here again... 

The thought of being kissed by him again made her feel like fireworks were going off in her chest. But, what if he didn't feel the same anymore? What if he did?! She smoothed her hands down her shorts. As long as she didn't do anything stupid, what could go wrong?

"Hey Monica!" Carla's mom and sister said together. Monica hugged them, wishing she'd had a second to put on lip gloss before Eddie walked through the gate. But a moment later there he was, a flash of teeth in his dark-tanned skin, glossy hair spilling over his forehead. He looked amazing as he escorted a gorgeous brunette into her backyard--

Gorgeous... brunette?

"Monica, it's so great to see you," he said, looking genuinely happy. He leaned in for a hug.

She returned it automatically. Hugs, kisses on the cheek, the affection of her culture had been drummed into her since time beyond memory. The gestures that should have sent her heart racing were practically meaningless. 

She shook her head, sure that everyone could hear her brain rattling inside her skull as she stared blankly at his-- his--

"This is Blanca," he said. He gave Blanca an impossibly sweet glance. "My girlfriend."

Monica forced a smile to her lips. She was obliged to hug and kiss the girl. Young woman. Whatever. Clearly, she was a senior in high school too... or maybe Eddie was going for older women now? Monica tugged up her blouse, her body going white-hot and ice-cold at the same time. 

Eddie showed off his new girlfriend to the rest of her family. Everyone was thrilled to meet her. Enchanted. Delighted. He'd dated other girls, sure. Rumors had been sprinkled here and there, but he'd never gone out with anyone seriously enough to bring her to a family get-together. Monica's face burned.  She and Eddie had been at family get-togethers together, but obviously their sneaking kisses hadn't counted. It was like they'd never even happened.

"Time for fireworks!" Mom called, ordering the boys to carry the boxes out to the driveway. 

Monica exhaled forcefully, wondering if it was too early to say she was tired. The thought of Eddie and Blanca cuddling up in front of the fireworks was enough to bring on a massive headache.

Everyone's laughter and good cheer swirled bitterly in her stomach. She'd heard people say that in a crowd of people, they'd never felt so alone, and now she knew what they meant. Eddie pulled Blanca behind the oleander bush. That was where he'd first kissed Monica. Monica's throat closed up and she lost her breath, backing toward the house as Carla handed her a lit sparkler. 

"Remember?" Carla asked cheerfully. The glow lit her face, making her look like an angel in darkness. "Like when we were little!"

Monica took the sparkler, a smile forcing its way past the tears in her eyes. "I remember," she said, watching her friend draw designs in the night sky. She sat on the curb beside her cousins; the last year she'd be a little kid with them, she realized. 

She wasn't going to let Eddie ruin her fireworks. Not him or anyone. She breathed deep, the smell of sulfur filling her lungs. A fountain of sparks sprayed from a cardboard tube, red and blue glowing in alternating sequences, and her heart sped up at the sight of it. 

Someone lit a set of bottle rockets and she and Carla flinched and laughed. Monica watched her sparkler die out. It didn't matter. There were plenty more, and if not, she'd make sure her own smile lit up the night.

7 comments:

  1. *sigh* So very sad...but beautifully written as always.

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  2. Thank you, Girl! I tried not to make it -too- sad, but yes, sad was what I was going for. :)

    xo
    Di

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  3. Di!! They kissed in the same place he kissed her!!! Boo!!! Hiss!! Tragedy!!! :oP

    Seriously though, great job!! Beautiful!!! And I love the images--I can totally see it in my head! Also, I'm now really, really hungry for some arroz con pollo... When are you going to make me some?? ;oP hehehe

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  4. Thanks Janelle! And Eddie was mean to kiss his girlfriend in the same place he kissed Monica... I do wonder if he did it on purpose or if he was just -that- thoughtless. *ponders*

    Arroz con pollo sounds pretty good, actually! Just don't let me burn it!!

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  5. Awesome... and sad... so very sad. Le sigh. Why must there be sad stories? It's like you've found this place I sometimes visit called reality. I don't like it, Di... it burns. The reality burns. (Great story and well-written, though.)

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  6. Awww! That was wonderfully written, hun. But I agree with everyone else--very sad =(

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  7. Thanks Wendy, and I know. I wish there weren't sad stories too. I didn't really think I was the type to write them. Hopefully this was a one time thing. :P

    Thanks Nat! I did -try- to make it happy, it just didn't come out that way.

    ...when I set out to write something for the Fourth of July I didn't mean to make it sad or anything. I tried to steer my brain toward writing something cheerful but-- when will I learn?-- I'm not really in charge up there. :/

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