An Evening Of Blueberries This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The hard stems of the blueberry plants still grabbed at her dress through the thick picnic blanket. She sat with eyes to the far-off horizon, where she supposedly would be able to watch the Ellsworth fireworks in just moments. This 4th of July was the only night she'd ever been able to sit outside without a jacket on her seldom trips to Grampy's. Her cousin Laura had been sitting with her only moments earlier as she held many a match under her shirt trying to light a seemingly dead sparkler to add to the festivities. Of course, her suspicions were blown to smoke as the silver stick alighted, singeing her shirt and some of the hair on her arms. She sat back now, allowing the adrenaline to calm in her system, as Laura and Christy ran around in circles up the hill, lighted only by two little balls above their small heads. Her uncle Kenny stood by one of the cars. She, Laura and Christy had walked up the hill, trying to light the indignant toys all the way. Walks in Maine were the only way to truly see how far away everything was. Nothing but blueberries for miles and miles. Now with a final moment of the closest thing she'd experienced to silence in days, with the children 40 yards away, she could sit and soak it all in. How someone could live this far from everything, even other houses, baffled her.

Suddenly, a shriek from one of the younger children brought her to her feet. She stared off to the hills waiting for a ball of pink florescent to grace the sky. More than 15 minutes later a flash of light below the horizon would have sufficed. She could hear the whining of the disappointed group of children being told that the fireworks wouldn't begin till 9:00. The clock had read nine long ago. Still, the parents tried to muffle the cries with promises. Yet the sky remained still. Every few minutes a shriek would arise from an impatient mouth at the sight of the far-off antennas of the army base. The clock now read 9:45, and the groups piled into their warm cars, listening to the sounds of a child being lied to. One rumbling car honked, ripping through the quiet.

"Caitlin! You coming?" Kenny screamed out the window.

"No! I'm going to walk, thanks," she screamed back. With an unseen smile she listened as the car dropped off under the hills. Even out of sight she could still hear the wails, like the siren of an ambulance, piercing the evening's quiet. Then, there was nothing.

She leaned down to grope for her flashlight, noticing how frightening a vast dark nothing could be. Her hand wrapped around her Maglite and she flicked the switch, blasting artificial light on a blueberry that had probably never known such a thing. Her bare feet were prickled by the leaves as she began to fold up her blanket. As she flapped it in a pitiful attempt to rid the sticking leaves, she noticed an eerie glow on her cheek. No more than a slight glint, but just enough to cause a flash in the corner of her suddenly nervous eye. She turned her head quickly. As her cool hands wrapped into the blanket she noticed a star, off to the left. It was the brightest heavenly body she had ever seen. She unfolded the blanket and tossed it open a second time. As she laid on the fabric she twisted the Maglite slowly off. Her hair spread out, she looked up at the starlit sky. In every spot of the night, there was a glowing speck, so small that when looked at directly, it would disappear. Slowly, with every new star resting in the hidden crevices of her eyesight, she began to realize how someone could live here, in the middle of nowhere. The vast nothing was no longer spooky, but comforting, even home. She wanted nothing more than to lie there for the night, and maybe see the sun rise to greet the blueberries. As she envisioned this, she noticed the eerie glow caressing her now-closed eyelids. Her mind snapped to reality and her hand scrambled for the flashlight. Then she saw it. In the far distance, left of the base antenna, there was a large blue florescent splatter of light. Then pink, and then a blazing white, flying high. So far off she could cover it with the tip of her pinky; it was the most wondrous sight she could've seen. Where else in the world could she sit on a cool hilltop among blueberries, watch a festival of lights 20 miles off, and enjoy it more than if she'd driven there. Up here, it came to her. She watched, never averting her eyes, in awe of the tiny combustions, for what seemed to be half an hour. As the lights grew larger and more often, her heart trembled. She became cold as the thought of leaving this place tore through her peaceful mind. Going home. Where you have to put your dog on a leash for fear of a dog catcher snagging him. Where the exhaust from the streets finds its way into your lungs, and where the fireworks are usually headlights on the thousands of cars, with drivers never thinking what they're passing. But now, as the lights died away, she just laid back in the snagging leaves, looking at the looming sky, and slowly pushed back the need to cry.

"Now isn't the time. Cry when you are away from this place, when there's something to cry over. For now, just soak it in, and forget it all," she told herself.

The wisest advice she'd ever given herself. Her eyes affixed on one star, then another, in compliance until she slowly floated off into a dark vast sleep. fl


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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