Fireworks


icnwp05b

A container in which living creatures are kept is usually called an aquarium. Or terrarium. Or vivarium. A cubicle. A zoo. A facility. A prison. Maybe not a prison, maybe I am exaggerating. Maybe I am dramatizing.

"Oh, I forgot to rub that lotion on Shelby's face last night. Would you remind me before I go to bed?" Someone said — wife, mother, husband, daughter.

" Should I pick up milk on the way home?" I said back. Someone answered, yes or no, I think.

That weekend, I cut the grass. Standing still, halfway done, I can smell the metal, the grass I am crushing, and somewhere far off, the sharp smell of cinnamon. I finish the lawn, eat warm sticky rolls with cold milk, put the mower away.

"Thanks for remembering the milk, sweetie."

Sure, no problem.

The grass is growing, I think. I am quivering with angst or ennui, and the grass is growing, what could be more predictable, I think. I loathe myself, loathe someone, wife, mother, husband, daughter, whoever it is who has brought me to this mundane pass. I am  primed for a red convertible, an affair, a face lift, a new career in real estate. That is memory or dream or both.

I woke up today, or yesterday, or maybe it will be tomorrow, with bandages on my head. Someone says tumor. I have a half memory of electric blades and my skull like hard wood squealing, then cracking. Open. All the memory shooting out like sparklers, waving in front of me — five years old with all the neighborhood kids. Then nothing. I am not five years old, I know that, but the memories shot out of my brain and died as sure as sparklers die — puff — bright and gently dangerous. When I wake, I always smell it, old Fourth of July, gunpowder. My mouth is dry; the lady with the red face puts a straw in my mouth.

"Fireworks," I say one day to someone. They — whoever they are — push buttons and yell in my face. What did you say – what did you say? and then the room is full of many someones, and now I smell grass clippings and cinnamon, but that is all, and I am just waiting for the fireworks and the sound of cracking bone, so I look at my fingers and close my eyes.

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