On another 4th of July a long time ago we decided to find the best possible vantage point to watch the city fireworks display. One of my cousins suggested we sneak past the barriers and the security guards and lay up on the hill directly beneath the spot of sky where the fireworks would ascend and explode. So we did. Weed and alcohol were cheap and plentiful then, leading to great ideas. The rockets launched and the flowers bloomed and the white flashes thundered. When a smoking rocket fragment impacted next to my cousin Susan’s head, somebody, I think her friend Lisa, said maybe this is a bad idea. Somebody else said maybe we should move. But we held our places in the fallout zone because of course the falling piece of rocket had missed Susan’s head not hit it, missed by a good two feet, and the only thing actually hitting us so far was scraps of hot paper ash that didn’t even burn the skin if you brushed them off quick, not even the sensitive skin of the inner elbows as we lay with our hands behind our heads, looking up at the fireworks that flashed brighter and louder than they had any right to flash. Because that night, on another 4th of July, we were eighteen years old, and dodging the fallout, and the magic was in us and not in them.
The Haunted Cabaret
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