Explosions in the Sky

So… I stand, holding my toddling daughter upon my shoulders, and I watch explosions in the sky.

Glimmering explosions in the sky, multicolored sparks of liquid fire raining color and wonder across the faces of my children. A tremor of fear and the thunderous roar, then a wide-eyed joy at the magic beauty of burning phosphorous chlorides and metal nitrates.

Explosions in the sky, and the Fourth of July. My mind wanders backwards, tumbling awkwardly into days long gone by… aching joy and bittersweet remembrance.

I remember it was cold for a Summer`s day. All day long it seemed that the bright yellow Sun shined cold, even as sweat matted the curls of my hair at the temple and forelock.

Lost in thought and without haste, I peddled my bike along Ocean Drive and let my gaze fall towards the West, as the Sun ebbed behind the palm trees and sky-scraping resorts.

“Will I ever come back?” I thought to myself, “Will this be the last Florida Sunset I ever see?”

Strange, perhaps, that such thoughts should occur to a nine year-old boy… yet they did.

My heart ached that I was leaving this place, this home I had known for most of my nine years. Memories of Pennsylvania and Connecticut were tremulous and distant… days of hard slate-gray and bitter Winters, soggy galoshes making tiny footprints in the snow, and the sense that there was never enough heat nor enough to eat.

…and now I was leaving, leaving the home I had come to love with a boy`s affection. Moving to some place called Texas, which I imagined as something akin to the old Western movies that I saw on television. A barren and arid place, filled with outlaws and ignorant yokels.

So as the sky faded from vibrant blues into copper tones of orange and red, I pedaled down Ocean Drive towards a little bungalow that I knew well.

It was where she lived.

We did not say hello to each other, I just followed her into the house and up the stairs. We climbed out of the window in her brother`s bedroom, out onto the roof… where we used to sit and watch the stars together when nobody knew where we were. Tonight we would watch the explosions in the sky, and say our goodbye in silence. Silence is always the loudest parting words you never say.

Awkward, yearning, with a lump in my throat and a pain in my heart. I wanted to say everything to her. I wanted to tell her to come with me, I wanted to tell her that I would someday return. I wanted the night to never end.

Explosions in the sky. The fireworks roared and crackled over the Ocean, fire of every color reflected in the tumbling Sea. Silence.

Somewhere in the roar of the sky and the painful thump of my heart, she reached a warm hand over to me – taking my hand in hers, your hand in mine, in a silent farewell.

I held her hand under a warm star-filled Night in silence, listening to the explosions in the sky that seemed to go on for an intermittent eternity.

Soon (all too soon), all was quiet again. She led me back into the house, and down the stairs.

I didn`t know if she would ever remember me, she knew I would never forget.

So… I stand, holding my toddling daughter upon my shoulders, and I watch explosions in the sky.


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