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It's a Beautiful Morning for Fireworks
The spark caught hold of the silence in the brisk morning air with a crack. Flames roared out of the small, slick barrel reaching for something with its burning fingertips.
It was a peaceful fall morning. The sun was just beginning to rise from its slumber, reaching out over the horizon with its radiant orange colors just starting to paint the serene landscape. Mockingbirds began to bathe in the wake of the sunrise and play their soothing tones, breaking the stillness of the morning. Gabrielle and Elizabeth were soon aroused by the call of nature and woke to the glorious morning and day that lay ahead. They rolled out of their cozy beds and begin their departure down the rolling staircase that was speckled with the early sunlight, following their noses to the buzzing kitchen.
They arrive to see their magnificent breakfasts of waffles decorated with sweet syrup and freshly picked strawberries that glowed red. Mr. Miller leaned his tall figure against the long, island table and watched them approach with his observantly piercing blue eyes that lay behind the rim of his round glasses. The girls eagerly sat down to enjoy their scrumptious meal while receiving the usual inquiries from Gabrielle’s father. “How did you guys sleep?” he asked.
“Like a rock,” Elizabeth responded, as Gabrielle concurred with a single head nod.
Stuffed to the brim, they lazily clean the dishes. They soon returned upstairs at a sudden inspiration to prepare themselves for the day that lay ahead. Feeling satisfied, they set out toward the staircase when they both stopped to marvel at the foyer window, pierced by powerful sunbeams. A new feeling of longing replaced an earlier feeling of laziness as they gazed at the earth awakening. They are soon snapped from their moment of deep thought as a mockingbird cries out in search of something. They run down the back stairs and throw open the door to see what awaits them in that perfect, autumn morning.
They began to search the garage for the first activity that may suit their early hunger for the day. Elizabeth looked in the cabinets for a potential sport to play. Meanwhile, Gabrielle began to rummage through her father’s decrepit workbench for anything that entails adventure. They needed something that was new and different. Something crazy. Shuffling and clatters fill the garage with great noise. Elizabeth began to shout out suggestions by saying, “Basketball?”
“No, we played that in the park with Gerry and Jorge the other day,” Gabrielle yelled back. These exchanges went on for a little while, but each idea was shut down immediately. It seemed odd to the girls that normally fun activities seemed to be boring to them. They wanted something more, something that would feed their hunger for adventure.
Frustrated, Elizabeth closes the cabinets with a crash in total anguish at her defeat. They had dismissed all of their usual options of entertainment and were left with nothing to show for it. “Well, I’ve got nothing over here. How’s it going over there?” Elizabeth says, her irritation almost palpable in the cool, morning air.
Seeming not to have heard her over the bangs and claps of the cabinets shutting on their old hinges, Gabrielle continued to sort through her father’s messy work area. Elizabeth turns around to keep trying for a better result.
Suddenly, Gabrielle lets out of shriek of relief and excitement. Almost simultaneously, Elizabeth gasps in amazement. They both turn, holding their prized possessions in their hands, showing them off like trophies. They race to convene in the center of the garage, barely being able to contain themselves. They break out into uncontrollable grins and begin to laugh as they see each other’s discovery. Elizabeth was holding two extremely old beat up scooters and Gabrielle had found an authentic, 16-shot Black Cat firework. Without even speaking, Gabrielle races inside to fetch a lighter while Elizabeth laces up her shoes. When they rejoin, Elizabeth inquires, “So, are we shooting this off now, in broad daylight?”
Without hesitating, Gabrielle answers, “I can’t wait, can you?”
Laughing, Elizabeth responds, “Of course not!!!”
“On a more serious note, where are we doing this?” Gabrielle asks, attempting to figure out the logistics of their plan.
“Well, that’s what these are for!!” Elizabeth responds, pointing at the Razor scooters. “Let’s roll!!!”
They rode quickly around the neighborhood, every push propelling them towards their goal. After finishing the inspection of their whereabouts, they halted their quest because nothing seemed safe enough to fit the criteria. Surrounded by great clouds of early-morning fog, they sit down on the frost of a front lawn in defeat. After a few minutes of brainstorming, they decided to move towards the front of the subdivision. When they reached their final destination, they stopped for yet another break to ponder their options. Elizabeth gazed around and her eyes suddenly locked on a sign to the left of the walls of the subdivision like a hawk finding its prey. She tapped Gabrielle, grinning uncontrollably. “Forest Preserve,” Gabrielle read slowly, looking at the sign in the distance.
Snapped from her trance, she looks at Elizabeth in shock and says, “You must be crazy to want to blow something off in the middle of the forest!!!”
Patiently, Elizabeth says, “But it’s late fall and they’re aren’t many leaves left on the trees. We can find an opening so it’s safe! It’s far away from anyone who could potentially be in range and it fits our safety reasoning, so why not?”
“Well, only if there’s an opening, okay?” Gabrielle decides.
Elizabeth’s excitement was almost tangible as she said, “I knew you’d feel the same! Now let’s go!”
They quickly ditch their scooters behind the neighborhood walls and run into the woods. The forest was eerily quiet and deserted, the ground littered with leaves as every tree’s livelyhood had been ripped away by the breath of early winter. They stalk through it, following a seemingly invisible path through the woods. They push through the assortment of trees, bushes, and vines and reach an opening the size of a small pool. Elizabeth looks at Gabrielle and says, “This is it.” Gabrielle pulls the firework out and places it on a mound that Elizabeth had hastily made up and says, “Alright. When I light this, we run and don’t look back. Got it?”
“Got it,” Elizabeth responds firmly.
Gabrielle bends over and clicks the lighter into place. The spark catches hold of the silence in the brisk morning air with a crack. Flames roared out of the small, slick barrel reaching for something with its burning fingertips. She puts it towards the fuse and it lights the ignition point easily. “GO!!” she shouts to Elizabeth as she gets up to run from the newborn danger that lay behind her. BOOM! The first shot barrels upward towards the sky in a red burst.
“I’M STUCK!!!! HELP! THEY”RE THORNS IN MY BUTT! I CAN”T MOVE! AHHH!” Elizabeth cries in pain, “HELP!!” Gabrielle turns around to see her friend standing four feet away from the firework, still blazing, tangled in a thorn bush.
She begins to race back toward Elizabeth, an unmatched sense of purpose rushing through her. She rips the thorns from her friend’s clothes and they sprint back to their scooters as the fireworks begin to sputter. Out of breath and dazed, Elizabeth whispers, “I can’t open my right eye.”
Gabrielle steps back and looks at her poor friend. Blood. Elizabeth’s eye was bleeding from a gash stretching from her eyebrow to the bottom of her eye. Looking away in terror, Gabrielle closes her eyes and tries to unsee her friends ripped face. Without welcome, memories pour into her mind, reminding her of the car crash six years ago that caused her fear of blood. The scene consumes her mind and takes her back to that winter night, unable to stop it. Gabrielle is sitting in the back seat of the decrepit station wagon trying to stay awake. In total awe, she looks out the window at the beauty of the landscape unfolding around her. She sees an upcoming bridge, seasoned with snow and the frost. She is taken out of her daze as her mom, sitting in the passenger seat while her father drives, turns on the radio. Marvin Gaye blares as Gabrielle begins to slip off into a slumber. She sleeps and dreams of Christmas morning which was unbearably near. She is suddenly woken with a start as the impact of another car jolts her into awareness. She opens her eyes to see her mother screaming, her father unconscious, and the once beautiful landscape now spinning around her. Panicked, she looks out the back window to see another car stuck to their back end and the bloody face of the unknown driver. Crash! They slam into the wall of the bridge and with a boom, Gabrielle slips away as the world turns black around her. She wakes up to the sound of sirens and the ringing of her head. She sits up to see her father leaned over a stretcher, his shirt soaked with blood. She stumbles to her feet and realizes the person her father was leaning over was her mom. She screams and runs towards her father, tears streaming down her face. She reaches her father and looks down at the stained stretcher to see her mother’s lifeless face, her clothes seeping with blood. Her father quickly swoops her away and holds her, crying. Through his tears, he whispers to his frantic daughter, “Mom didn’t make it sweetie.” The world comes crashing down on Gabrielle’s innocent mind in a sudden tsunami of blood.
Pushing the memory of her past away, she asks Elizabeth, “What happened?”
“Well, you lit it off and said go, so I turned to run and I got stuck in a thorn bush that happened to be right behind me. It wrapped me up and tore everything, including my eye. While I was trying to rip through them to get away, I felt a snap and a rip on and above my right eye. I think one of the thorns might have cut up my eye when I was trying to run,” Elizabeth said slowly.
Gabrielle walked back towards Elizabeth in total shock at the unfolding events and began to get a closer look at her friend’s eye. Gabrielle then said, “I’m going to have to see if your actual eye is scratched or damaged in any way, so can you open it?”
“I’ll do my best,” Elizabeth responded hesitantly. She couldn’t open it voluntarily, but she began to pry it open with her hands. To Gabrielle’s amazement, Elizabeth’s contact had been sliced into countless pieces, protecting her real eye from a potential catastrophe.
“It’s not good, Elizabeth,” Gabrielle said worried, “but it’s better than it could have been.”
At this, they raced back home where they would attempt to remove the pieces of contact from her eye. They didn’t want Gabrielle’s father to find out about their little incident and how it happened, so they snuck into the back of the house to the closest bathroom.
One by one, they began to pluck the torn up, scattered pieces out of her eye. After a while, they had done their best to get every piece out and were exhausted from their efforts. When they went back into the kitchen, Miller was waiting, sitting contently at the table smiling at them.
“Hear those fireworks?” he asked slyly.
The girls looked at each other and began to laugh uncontrollably. They told Mr. Miller the story and with almost a sense of pride, he smiled and began to help Gabrielle remove the pieces from her friend’s eye.