Here is a (late) tribute to our nations 238th birthday.
Also to fire, because fire is awesome.
I watched the flame burning atop my lighter carefully, making notes of the way it faded in and out, burning blue at the bottom, yellow and orange at the top. The way the slightest breeze would blow it in every direction, or even put it out. I watched the waves of heat rippling around it, and felt the warmth radiating out.
It was amazing, how something so small could produce such an incredible substance.
Fascinated, I turned it slowly, focused so intently, that when the breeze blew out the flame, I jumped slightly. Looking up I saw my cousin, Dean, looking at me like I was crazy.
“What?” I asked defensively.
He shook his head slowly. “You are so bizarre. What’s so interesting about a little lighter? We have a full on fire-pit in the backyard.”
“I know, but it seems so delicate, yet…so strong.” I lit the tiny fire again.
Exasperated, Dean pulled the lighter out of my hand. “Come on, it’s the Fourth of July, and you can’t leave me alone with all of our crazy family.” He started walking to the back yard.
“Hey! Bring me back my lighter!” I shouted after him.
He broke into a jog. “Come and get it!”
Muttering angrily under my breath, I wheeled myself carefully through the side yard, and as fast as I could to where Dean was waiting by the grill. Angrily, I snatched my lighter out of his hand.
“That was rude.” I glared at him.
“Well excuse me.” He yawned.
I wheeled myself along my tiny wheelchair accessible path, and over to my mom. Sighing, I joined the ‘old folks’ conversation, knowing Dean would never chance following me over there, lest he get dragged into talk about some sort of gun rights or pig slaughtering or something else gory.
But I didn’t mind my crazy great uncles, and it was nice to see Gamma again.
Speaking of Gamma, she leaned over and handed me a tiny coin purse.
“What’s this for?” I asked quizzically.
“Shhh, don’t show your cousins.” She glanced around to make sure no one was listening. “It’s for your lighters. I measured, and it should be just big enough to fit two.”
“Thanks! That’s awesome!” Opening the purse eagerly, I found that there was already a lighter and a case of matches in there. Smiling I looked up into my grandma’s empty eyes. She had gone blind a few years ago due to head trauma after a car accident. The same accident that had paralyzed me from the waist down.
Hugging me, she whispered, “A Fourth of July present for my special little pyro. I even got the purse in red, white and blue.”
“I love it.” I kissed her on the cheek, and then laughed to myself as I realized that the purse was, in fact, green camo, not the colors of our flag. But close enough.
Turning I saw Dean shaking his head at me from across the yard. I stuck my tongue out at him. Mature, I know, but basically that sums up my relationship with my cousins. So mature.
Yawning, I leaned back in my wheelchair, and looked up at the sky. It was already a little polluted from early fireworks around the state, but I could still see a couple stars that had come early.
Happier than I had been in a long time, I held my grandma’s hand, and let myself relax in the friendly atmosphere of the holiday season.