Sunday, July 10, 2011

Still Waiting

As she stood on the cool, wet grass of her parent’s lawn, the sparks fell to the Earth all around her. The neighbors and spectators were beginning to disperse, and she was left standing alone on this muggy night, wishing vainly for the night sky to light up in spectacular color once again. A reflection of her entire night was captured in those transient and quickly fading bursts of light, and now they were over, departing as quickly as her happiness had departed and leaving the sky as empty and silent as she felt.

When she’d imagined this night only days before, she’d imagined laughter chasing away the darkness, beauty filling her heart as it filled the sky. She’d imagined holding Joe’s hand, her head resting on his shoulder. Together they would watch the annual fireworks show from the comfort of her parent’s front yard. It would be her first date; Joe might even give her that elusive first kiss.

But the night had played out very differently indeed. First, Joe never showed up. She waited on her front porch; all dolled up in that new dress her mama had bought her especially for this occasion. The possibilities of the night played out in front of her like a symphony, and she waited.

The show started. Each spark seemed to race for its place in the sky, eager to be the first to dazzle and amaze. She sat in the porch swing, waiting for Joe, refusing her parent’s when they asked her to join them on the lawn to watch the show. Joe would be there any moment, so she waited.

Streets and yards filled up with familiar faces, oh-ing and ah-ing over the spectacle. The neighborhood kids chased each other around, playing hide and seek with the explosions of color and light. And she waited.

The beauty and perfection of the night stole breath away. From her position on the porch swing, she smiled as she watched her mama and daddy hold hands, her mama’s head resting on her daddy’s shoulder. She sighed as a couple standing in her neighbor’s yard stole a quick kiss just as the entire street was illuminated for a brief moment. She took this all in, and she waited.

It wasn’t until the big finale began that she realized she’d been stood up, that her heart so full of hope and earnest excitement was destined to break. Her mama finally talked her into going out onto the lawn, to watch the last few explosions of light reach their crescendo in what should have been a culmination of a perfect evening.

And now the sparks fell to the Earth all around her, and instead of bursting with light, she felt nothing but darkness. She couldn’t bear the sympathy she saw on her parent’s faces, so she hugged them good night and told them she was fine with a forced smile. They mercifully left her standing on that cool, wet grass, alone with her thoughts, alone as she’d come to expect.

She was nineteen years old. She felt old and young all at once, waiting for her first date, waiting for her first kiss, waiting for her life to begin. Still waiting. 

This fiction was written in response to the Lightning and Lightning Bug prompt: Baby, You're a Firework.

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