A snippet from “Sights on the Storm” inspired in part by the recent holiday.
“The wonderful thing about fireworks,” Dorinda began, “goes beyond the flares flowering above, the wide eyes and open mouths below. The freedom to define, to describe the world around you without a sound – that is the gift.
“Exploding in your mouth like popping rock candy, fireworks can have the flavor of orange, cherry or grape. Of course, childhood flavors give way to baby sweet peas, cherry tomatoes or certain kernels of corn. Blueberries and huckleberries, too, if fortune liked you.
“To feel the taste of a firecracker could, if the tongue could handle it, morph into that of salmon roe on a sushi roll or caviar. Maturity is required.
“To feel the burning sensation, place a hand over a saucepan with nothing more than sizzling oil, awaiting popcorn kernels that would dare dance without a lid. Let some of those droplets fall to the burner for a different scent of the now-unseen seasonal scene.
“Then again, if the holiday’s passed, watch the fireflies flitter about the field, a milder version of the shooting star syndrome of the skies.”
Dorinda sat down, refusing to make eye contact with her instructor, glad that she wasn’t the last one, hating that she was the first. Adele gave her a reassuring nod before taking her turn at the podium. It eased the pain a little, having revealed the memory of long ago.
Vincent waved a hand in front of her face. “Going through your high school yearbook never makes you smile,” he told her. Then again, the same could be said of her collegiate accomplishments, too, he thought sadly.
“Yeah? Where’s yours so I can see your reaction, Dad?” She closed her eyes. Vincent wondered if he would hear a confession now, later or be set up with a half-truth again. “Mr. E. claimed there was always more than one approach to a mystery,” she said.
Vincent refilled the coffee cup before her. “An ‘I told you so’ moment or something else?”
“Remember when you challenged me to explain the explosions of fireworks in terms of taste?”
“I told you to look in the pantry,” he said. “That was after your nana lectured us both about the candy you brought home.”
Dorinda smiled. “You stashed it in your desk drawer in your bedroom, under your journal, with my personal flashlight against the edge of the drawer. Our little secret for the storms.”
Vincent took out a cookbook, turning it towards the desserts section where he pulled out a worn paper. “Want to know another secret? Mr. Eikenberry already knew why you wrote the way you did. That essay you dodged, complaining about ‘exposure from an emotionally expository approach,’ I think you said?” He gave her the transcript, watched as his daughter mouthed a curse. “You’re so used to it that you don’t realize you do it, even now. So, what mystery requires the same attention?”
Dorinda shook her head. “It’s nothing, Dad. Nothing to worry about.”
The response hurt him. He slid the book her way. “Why don’t we make some blueberry buckle,” he asked, aware that the chances of the time, the results, the memories of more ‘talkative days’ revealing his daughter’s worries were slim.
Yet he held on to the spark of hope.