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Pictures of Fireworks

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Read this after listening to “what you own” from rent or “1950”—whichever you prefer

“I think I’m lesbian.” 

Cass and I are sitting on the dock, legs swinging over the choppy waves. I scratch at the bug bites on my bare feet. The mosquitos are eating us alive in the hot stagnant July night, but neither of us are ready to go in yet.

“Hmm.” Cass says. She paused for a second, gazing out at the warm yellow lights coming from the houses across the lake. “What happened to that one guy. You know the one?  Danny or something?”

I shake my head. “Didn’t work out. Told him if it didn’t work with him, then...”

We hear a loud series of pops from the distance. “Guns or firecrackers?” Cass asks.

“Obviously guns,” I say. “It’s the 25th.” It’s a little morbid when you think about it, but that’s life in our town of 3,000.

“My money’s on firecrackers,” Cass says. “Who’s shooting their gun at...” She glances at the glowing-blue numbers of her watch. “10:52 p.m.” 

Sure enough, a firework erupts over the line of trees, its reflection flickering on the lake.

“Told you so.” She smirks and starts to shake out her ponytail. We sit in silence for a bit. The thick buzz of cicadas fills the air.

“Okay, but, with girls it’s entirely different. I can flirt with a girl. I’m smooth.” 

Cass doubles over in laughter. “I’m sorry,” she says between bursts of chuckles. “But you and smooth don’t belong in the same sentence. When’s the last time you were smooth?”

I grin. “Two weeks ago. There was this girl staring at me in the Panera, and...”

Cass shakes her head. “Sweetie, she wasn’t staring at you because she likes you. She was staring at you because you dress like a 13-year-old boy going through an emo phase.”

“Not anymore. I’m reinventing myself.” The stars are coming out, and it’s a full moon night. When Cass and I were little, we’d pretend to be wolves. Cock back our heads and howl, deep and guttural. Not that we’d ever seen a wolf. East-Central Illinois scares away everything but rabbits, the occasional deer, and way too many damn mosquitos. 

“What’re you gonna be like?” Cass doesn’t laugh for once. She leans against my shoulder.

“I dunno. Mature, I guess. Confident.” I slap a mosquito against my thigh. “I wish I wasn’t 15. It frigging sucks to be 15.”

Cass nodded. “The years go by so slow,” she said, sounding so much older. 

I sighed, crossing my legs beneath me. “The months go by so fast.” I realized with a jolt that it would be August soon. Time was slipping through my fingers.

In that moment, I felt as thought I was trying to take a picture of fireworks but only catching a cloud of smoke and a few scattered sparks.


author’s note: okay i’m back after being gone all summer yay. I wrote this at midnight on the Fourth of July but in this house we stan America year round (just kidding we shit on America year round.) 


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