It’s the summer after your sophomore year of high school and you’ve never been kissed. The fact that, sitting on the hill behind your old school looking up at the Fourth of July firework, this is your main concern bothers you, but you can’t change the fact.
Every year the Fourth of July has acted as a bridge between you and the rest of the town encouraging you to reach out and interact with current and past friends when you would normally be curled up in your pajamas between your computer and your mattress. You put on a baggy grey t-shirt and some black shorts, then drag yourself out of the house and down the road to the parade. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you see your friends sitting in a line on the low stone wall. Bikes lines up next to them, they laugh and shove each other and sometimes you’ll push yourself across the street and sit on the end. If you’re even luckier you get to feel like you never left them for boarding school. If you’re less lucky you never see them and you stand with your brother six years your younger, frizzy fair flying in the wind, his little hand sticky in yours with sweat.
At night you push yourself off the couch again and follow your family to the fields by the school. You wrap yourself in a hoodie and weave through the crowd that’s gathered on the hill to watch the fireworks. You like to joke that your whole town must be here. Considering how small your town is it is completely possible.
If you’re lucky you meet your friends at the top of the hill. This year is a lucky one, but not as lucky as you’d hoped. You meet Irene and Mira at stand by them picking at your shirt. You laugh about Irene’s bangs, then attempt to pick up on who the new friends they’re talking about are. Then the boys arrive. You recognize Sam. You see Ben and Tyler and two people you don’t know. And they joke. And you laugh. And you forget their names. Then you migrate to the top of the hill and sit to watch the fireworks.
It’s exactly how you remember it being in the past. It’s bright and disorganized and the explosions make your body shake. Unlike last year you’re not nervous and naive sitting next to your first boyfriend ever. This year you watch the lights over the backs of heads you haven’t seen in in years. The bursts of sound make your heart bead faster, beat harder. Your chest gets a little tight, but it comes and goes. You miss the feeling of last year. You miss the lightness and the carefree.
The fireworks are pretty mediocre every year. You don’t get why they they excite people so much.