Rogue Firework

You’re hosting a 4th of July party at your house. Your closest friend is in charge of the firework show and it’s a spectacular display of colors in the sky—that is, until one rogue firework misfires into your neighbor’s home and catches her roof on fire. Write this scene.

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  1. kathleenmagner

    Jean’s thighs had gone numb squatting by the arsenal, and by the time the final bottle rocket soared above the cul-de-sac trailing sapphire cinders, her craned neck was stiff. Bowing her head, she counted down the last two mortars. Each launched on cue, and she watched them showering the night sky with white and red flecks more numerous than the stars.

    The rocket’s pops and mortar’s whizzes died while the applause and cheers rose behind her.

    “Take a bow, sis!” said Luke above the hoots.

    The echoing booms and crackles of distant celebrations dulled his shout, but those nearby repeated his call.

    Jean straightened among the charred papers, the sulfurous clouds, and ash streaks marring the asphalt. Pivoting with one arm lifted a dramatic arc worthy of any Broadway stage, she then froze. Her heart thudded against her ribs more forcefully than when she lit a fuse. Her eyes grew wide despite the sting in the air and ice replaced the coating of sweat the summer heat and adrenaline had inspired on her skin.

    While gooseflesh covered her bared arms, flames danced along the roof line of Luke’s avocado green ranch house and nibbled at the sun crisped leaves he’d never cleaned out of his gutter. Embers alighted the dried wreath pinned to the front door, the one Meredith had made before she had had enough of home and hearth.

    Jean covered her mouth, smothering an expletive from her twin boys who still had fingers plugged into their ears.


    Bruce stepped forward, holding the kids back with both hands as he encroached her no-go zone. He, like the rest Jean noted, hadn’t turned around yet, their gazes drifting between her and the sky.

    “Honey, what’s wrong?”

    She motioned at the house and forced her parched tongue to function. “Call the fire department.”

    “What?” Following her gesture, Bruce swiveled and the crowd spun with him.

    Luke, however, went rigid. His stare riveted Jean to the asphalt and a guilty punch slammed her in the gut. When he finally turned, he did so slowly, as if already certain of what he might find.

    Jean slinked to his side. “I’m so sorry, Luke.”

    He grunted from what she imagined was a stunned stupor.

    By then, Bruce had joined them and the neighbors had surfaced from their own shock. They whipped phones from the pockets of shorts or windbreakers, their glows illuminating like one of her flaming stars. Beeps sounded from some, while others began speaking with operators, reporters or friends and more than one bent their heads over forming text.

    Luke never moved. Jean touched his elbow, and he tilted his head without taking his eyes from the swelling flames.


    “Yeah, sis?”

    “You okay?”

    “Sure.” He nodded methodically, like a slowing bobble head doll.

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