beat the traffic

by Steven J. Serafiani

Fireworks lit up the night sky
a choreographed dance that spun around the wonderment of my youth
blankets spread all across the grass like colonies of innocence
kids running in circles with sparklers
oohing and aahing with every thunderous boom
a giant red circle crackled and expanded and sparkled in the night sky
then dissipated into a blue pinwheel
the smoke staying behind keeping the shape
my father would point and say,
“You see that one!”
I would smile with delight
he then said it was time to leave
and began walking
I followed behind with my hand in his
my head craned with every color that reflected off of my father’s coat
we walked over the fox river
on a bridge covered in spider webs and that shook with every passing car
I remembered the honks and american flags
my chin pointed up the whole walk
then, a rapid succession of bangs and explosions
I stopped halfway across that bridge
the grandest finale
the smoke was so thick that it seeped into my memories
I was memorized
I felt a tap on my hat
my dad said, “Come on son – we’ve gotta beat the traffic now.”
I reluctantly followed
my eyes counting the cracks on the illuminated sidewalk
with my back turned to the fourth of July
I heard a chorus of claps and cheers
we got to the car
I buckled my seat belt and stared out the window
my dad and I drove home in silence

twenty years later and I’m still just trying to the beat the traffic.