As a young girl who had always followed the rules, I was surely taken by surprise when my cousin asked if I had wanted to set off some fireworks. I could distinctly hear the mumbles of inquiry and protests from everyone in the room, as all 7 of us decided to stray away from the adults downstairs and hang out in my cousin’s bedroom. I could even hear my youngest cousin ask if fireworks were legal in Alberta.
“I don’t think fireworks are legal..” My cousin’s face morphed into a Cheshire Cat-like grin, one full of mischief and excitement, “That’s the whole fun of it! We can sneak off at any time. This party isn’t any fun.”
The everlasting thought of getting caught by my parents with such a harmless object as fireworks scared me. Despite this, as my cousin had mentioned, the prospect of sneaking out into the late night sounded way too appealing. I could see it in everyone’s eyes, the possibility of dangerous excitement, a threatening combination. I wanted to be rebellious. I could only live once. I might as well go out with a bang of fireworks.
We all clambered down the stairs in a disorganized mess, the sound of ear-piercing laughter and foreign chatter slowly filling my ears to the brim, and none of the adults crowded near the dining table could seem to sense our anxiousness to escape. My cousin had the scarce amount of fireworks in a gas station plastic bag, if that wasn’t suspicious enough, and my uncle had given us a once-over before asking us where we were going.
“We’re just going for a drive.” My oldest cousin’s lie flowed out naturally and with ease. My doe eyes constantly switched back and forth from the adults to the escapees around me. By the time my uncle had given us a nod, returning to the table conversation without a care, I finally managed to let go of the breath I was holding.
My mother had turned to me at the last minute, demanding that I come back at a reasonable time and stick with my cousins, and only then did I realize the extremity of what I was actually doing. My fear was ready to jump at my weakest points and paralyze me in place, but everyone was already out the door, and I realized that it was now or never. Now or never, I thought. I managed a curt nod of broken promises in return before stumbling out the door.
The cold air bitterly nipped at my face, yet the thrill of heading to unknown whereabouts left a warmth from head to toe. It was around midnight. The neighborhood was quiet. The world may be fast asleep, but I’ve never felt more alive. I peered out the foggy window as my cousin drove to wherever; I didn’t want to ask just yet. I drew a smiley face on the window; a gentle reminder of the childhood innocence I’ve always locked inside of me with a key. Everything passed me in slow-motion: the pitch black sky full of wonder and possibilities, homes ready to start a new day, lampposts waving at me with beams of light, and the occasional car driving by that probably had the same thought as I did, “What are you doing out this late? What’s your story?”.
My cousin’s car stuttered to a stop by the park I immediately recognized. I walked their dogs on the winding path of this park multiple times, yet as I gazed around the area, a shudder went down my spine. It had a different view under the moonlight. The park looked scary, with its vast emptiness and lack of welcoming light. It reminded me of a cemetery, a land of broken dreams once the sun set. I hated it, and as my mother had warned me, I clung to my cousin’s side as we walked up the path.
As we crowded by each other, our breaths formed a condensation that drifted into the air in, a faint whisper of our sin. My cousin took out the contents of our potential doom, chucking the plastic bag somewhere behind him without a care. The ironically bold and fun letters of “fireworks!!!” stared at me mockingly.
“Are we ready?” My cousin grinned at us. He had a blue firework in one hand, and a flimsy lighter in another. I never trusted anyone less than in that moment.
Was I ready to light up some tacky fireworks? I probably wasn’t, judging by the fact that my heart was beating at an irrational rate, but my opinion no longer mattered at the point in time. All I recognized was the simple flicker of light before my senses got consumed by a cloud of thick, crackling smoke. A flickering light drew me in, and the world came to a halt of slow motion. That is, until I heard someone’s piercing shout to “run to the car!” snap me out of my fog. I ran for my life, literally, and I slammed against the side of the car in exhilaration.
Everyone around me was breathless, panting from the spontaneity, as we all turned to watch the spectacle we initially feared. Bursts of blue and green clashed perfectly with the foggy night sky. My eyes stared at the spectacle in wonder and fascination. I wished I could stay in such a moment forever: fueled off the thrill of rebellion, excitement, and danger. I was on the highest point of the roller-coaster of life.
“Sorry for disturbing your sleep!” My friend had shouted into the night as we drove away. I laughed with him, my adrenaline still pumping through my veins, and I had never felt happier than I did with my group of people. If this was what living in the moment felt like, I would light up a million more fireworks.
I gazed at the sky full of smoke, a reminder of our former presence, and I couldn’t help but smile. I left a mark in the world, and it was a burst of blue and green.