My Stories, Short Stories

Fireworks: A Work of Flash Fiction

Explosions lit the sky with brilliant balls of fire. Dazzling displays of red, green, and purple sparks raining down in crackling light reflected back up by the river. Each new blast perfectly timed to match the echoing concussion of the symphony below.

But, Sam didn’t notice any of it. He couldn’t stop himself from staring at the joy on Jennifer’s face and the way the cool breeze blowing up from the water fluttered through her hair.

His stomach twisted into knots, a cascade of doubt and fear–the gnawing teeth of indecision. His hands trembled as he reached across the blanket and squeezed her fingers.

Jennifer squeezed his hand back. She glanced away from the fireworks and gave him a smile that stopped his heart.

The music grew into cresting waves of a rising crescendo. A flurry of lights filled the sky with the continuous pops of one massive display then abruptly stopped, leaving the valley in darkness as the echo of the music faded.

A few seconds later, the crowd erupted into applause.

“That was amazing,” Jennifer said, chest heaving with excited breath. “That was just intermission! I can’t wait for the finale.”

Sam reminded himself to breath and squeezed her hand again. “Jen,” he said, voice cracking. “I want to talk to you about something.”

She turned to face him, mouth hanging open, eyes wide. “You’re dumping me?”

“What? Why would you think that?”

Jennifer let her shoulders slump down. “Oh, is this about the cookies in my nightstand? Because they got buried and I just forgot about them until they started growing mold. It only happened the once! You don’t need to have an intervention.”

Sam shook his head. “It’s not about the cookies, Jen. It’s more import–”

“I didn’t mean to take over your entire dresser!” Jennifer snapped. She trembled as panic set it. “You only have four pairs of underwear, so I didn’t think you’d notice when I started using that drawer, but it was so nice having fresh socks every morning and it got out of control. I’m sorry.”

“Wait, you took over my dresser?” Sam asked. His mind ran back over the last few months. “I just thought I’d been using too much of that stuff that makes my clothes all fluffy.”

“So, it’s not about the cookies or the drawer? Is this about that weird smell in my living room, because I talked to my roommate about that and we’re pretty sure it’s coming from the apartment upstairs and is not related at all to Mr. Pinkweather going missing.”

“Jesus, Jen, will you just let me finish my thought!” Sam shouted.

Jennifer shot back on the blanket, back straight, eyes beginning to water. “You’ve never yelled at me before,” she said, shoulder beginning to shake. “Why are you yelling at me?”

Sam clenched his eyes closed, counted to ten, and took another deep breath. In the distance, the symphony began to warm up and the crowd started making their way back to their blankets from the concessions stands.

“I’m sorry, Jen,” he said. He turned away from her to stare back down at the black river below. “I didn’t mean to lose my temper. It’s just I’ve never proposed to anyone before.”

Jen’s sobs stopped, and she looked up at him, snot dripping from her nose. “You what?” she asked, wiping her face with the sleeve of her sweater.

Sam turned back to her and rose up onto one knee. He pulled a small box from his pocket and held it out to her.

“Jennifer Candide, I’ve loved you for years. Through moldy cookies infestations and dubious pet ownership skills, I’ve loved you. I love you so much I didn’t even realize you’d conquered my entire apartment. Will you marry me?”

Jennifer chuckled softly and nodded her head. “Yes. Yes!” She leaned forward and kissed him.

The symphony began to play the opening chords of the second act and fresh new fireworks exploded in the sky.

Sam pulled the ring from the box and Jennifer helped him slide it onto her finger. Together they settled back down onto the blanket, and turned up to watch the show.

Explosions lit the sky with brilliant balls of fire. Dazzling displays of red, green, and purple sparks raining down in crackling light reflected back up by the river. Each new blast perfectly timed to match the echoing concussion of the symphony below.

But, Sam didn’t notice it. He couldn’t stop himself from staring at the joy on Jennifer’s face and the way the cool breeze blowing up from the water fluttered through her hair.


Author’s Note

This week’s short story is extra short. It was written as part of a personal challenge to write a complete work in under an hour.

Long story, short: I didn’t make it, but I did get pretty close.

Also, I’ve determined that I vastly prefer notebooks bound on the top instead of on the side, but not enough to pay more for them at school supply time. In the grand scheme of things, a $0.50 legal pad might not be that much more expensive than a $0.10 spiral bound notebook, but over the course of a career, that might add up to thirty or forty dollars. 

And, my friends, that is a lot of McChicken sandwiches. 

Published by M.A. Brotherton

M.A. Brotherton is a writer, blogger, artist, and fat-kid from the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri. He’s tasted a little bit of everything the Midwest has to offer, ranging from meth-tweaking rednecks in massive underground cave complexes to those legendary amber waves of grain. When he’s not writing, he spends most of his time screwing around on the internet.