You, at Night in the Summer

echoing across your neighborhood skies all season long

Mike Paulus, design by Janae Breunig

Maybe you like to go to bed early. Read a little until your book falls from your hands and you fumble for a bookmark then snap off the light. Maybe you stay up late, binge watching a different world where different people deal with murder, mystery, silent outrage, or dragons. Maybe you just gaze at your phone until your droopy face can’t take it anymore. Maybe you blunder through the front door, well past midnight, throwing your keys, your shoes, your pants anywhere as you tumble into bed.

And maybe, no matter how the evening ends, you’ve got your windows open. The dusty screens form a tissue-thin shield against the night’s pitch black pressing up against your walls. Dreamy summer air is the only thing slipping in.  

Until something else comes crashing through the screen. 

An auditory something: Crack! Crackity-crack-crack ... crack. 

Silence follows

“Idiots,” you whisper and go back to your pillow or your Instagram or your dragons.  

BUT CRACK. The sound stabs your screen again. 

Crackity-crack. Fzzzzzzzzzzz. Boom.

Inside your house, there’s no childhood thrill for these firecrackers and bottle rockets. No high-flying sparkles reflected in your watery eyes as your face cranes up to the stars and clouds. They suck. And your neighbors blasting them off? They also suck. You should call the cops.

But you don’t.

All summer long there is an idiot somewhere cracking their firecrackers deep into the midnight hours. And that idiot’s story is different than your story. Their story is a flash of danger and laughter. Secret explosions over the rooftops. It’s loud and disruptive and they get away with it. And you? You are not even in their story. 

But you could get up and go outside. You could knife through the patio door and wisp down the ghost-grey sidewalks, tracking each bang and sizzle until you catch those idiots red-handed. You could hunt them down and look right into their smirking faces. 

But you don’t.

Remember the first time you lit a fuse. It started hissing and spitting tiny sparks so you raced away like the devil himself was snatching at your heels, pictures of fireballs filling your head. You reached your dad or your cousins or your friends and spun around to see the fuse disappear into a bottle rocket and pheew! Suddenly a thin trail of smoke was hanging in the air, arching skyward. Then crack. It all happened so fast. So you lit another one right away.

And maybe you wanted to do it again and again until you had to go buy more. Maybe you did this every summer, waiting for it all year long, until it stopped being so much fun. Until the crackity-crack lost its allure, when other activities became more necessary. More urgent. 

This is your story. So you stay right where you are tonight, staring at the black square hole in your wall, listening for the next big bang. Will it make you mad? Or will it crack open the silence and blast light onto the sky like a megawatt film projector? Maybe the biggest home movie ever will stretch from horizon to horizon, with towering kids dancing away from lit fuses. Their voices bright with giggles and fear. Their dirty, scabby knees rushing back to fire up another and another and another until the film sputters out and the sky goes dark. And maybe tonight there’s a little forgiveness for those idiots and their firecrackers.

That’s up to you.

A fat buzzy June bug thwacks into your dusty screen and corkscrews off into the moonlight.

 

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