Veronica's Garden

Rachel Creager Ireland on writing, living, the Flint Hills, and the Post Rock Limestone Caryatids

Tag: 4th of July

4th of July: Flash Fiction

All day, trucks and soldiers. At night, bangs and whizzes and flashes of color in the sky to the east, the part of the city where Uncle Roy lived.

“What is it, Mama?”

“Fireworks.”

“Is it the 4th of July?”

“No.”

I knew the 4th of July only came once a year, but this was every night for many nights. Why they were shooting fireworks? And where was the music? On the 4th of July, they played lively music with the fireworks. But even when I listened carefully, I could hear none of the flutes or tubas or even the booming drums.

The end had begun.

Thanks to Julia’s Place for the prompt, “but even when I listened carefully.” Visit the blog to see how other writers developed it.

Sparks

kids with long shadows
It’s the 4th of July and we’re out with the kids
no really it’s the 8th, our days are so full we
do too much, we’re just now
in the long dusk and dry heat opening the bag
of fireworks, not big ones, sparklers and little spinners
that fly and throw sparks I’m careful to grind to ash
once they’ve fallen.
The kids are afraid but excited,
admonishing us, their parents, to take care
as we take turns lighting fuses
with a punk we pass back and forth.
There are always a couple duds, but they were cheap
and there are more. I collect bits of plastic and paper
off the gravel, thinking about faraway birds and oceans
though we are a thousand miles from saltwater. It all matters.
I see a star, really a planet, I think Venus.
I start to make a wish as I walk
to the highway to pick up a fallen parachute. “No, Mama, no!”
Their dad runs out to beat me to it, we all laugh. I look
back to that star planet
and wish for this now: some kind of suspension,
this sweet laughter in dusky light with children
and sparks that die before they reach the ground,
this moment to be eternal, if only in memory
in me in the higher dimensions of the mind
to be somehow always, forever endless now.

Red Cabbage

What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve seen today? I cut the leaves off this red cabbage to make some cole slaw for the obligatory July 4th picnic tonight, and this intricate fractal loveliness is what I saw.

Whenever I have a red cabbage I remember once seeing my Mom cut one open and saying, “Isn’t that pretty? Sometime I’d like to draw a cabbage.” I don’t know that she ever did. That was before people had computers in their houses, much less pocket telephones with cameras built in. Fortunately we do have those now, as I did not inherit her exceptional ability to draw. Even if I had, it might not have been fast enough; by the time I’d finished making the slaw today, the core was beginning to yellow at the edges, its vitality dissipating. Now I have the magical phone camera, I can hope to capture some of the fleeting beauty that surrounds us every moment, whether we notice or not.

Happy Independence day, everyone. Let us all enjoy and appreciate the place we are right now, and remember to notice something beautiful.

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