The air was so drunk that I could taste it — no, that was the cheap champagne buzzing its way through my system.
It’s cliché to paint a picture of the night sky, but I’m gonna do it anyway: that infinite expanse of darkness that swallows up the border light of any gleaming object in its maw, leaving only starlight pinpricks where miles of burning, burning light blaze, eons away from the paper thin surface of our planet;
and suddenly, the dome of this nightscape implodes in a series of phosphorus-infused blooms, and iridescent dandelions scatter and shatter the void.
I see heaven in a series of chemical reactions.
It is the 4th of July, and I’m perched on the roof of our hotel. Sound travels differently when you’re above its source — I can hear whispers of conversations from the street, and they flutter into my ears like butterflies to color.
I was sitting alone, one set of heels clacking against the building’s siding, because I’d lost my companions. Or rather, they’d become lost in each other; when I’d last checked, everybody I knew on this trip was in deep, hushed conversation, or spinning into alcohol-fueled holiday madness, and as I had nothing to divulge and no desire to exacerbate the dizziness in my head, I’d made my way onto the roof, a bottle of something fizzy and sweet and suspect clutched in my hand.
It’s strange, to be a boulder trapped in a flowing current, to feel life rush around you and batter against you and tug at you. I wasn’t sure if the mess in my head was from the alcohol or from the vertigo — I looked down, and saw only the tops of my shoes and the pavement below — or from something else entirely, the same something that had compelled me to climb up and out from the swirling, spiking emotions of unbridled celebration going on below.
The lights of Avalon reach upward in an attempt to pierce the darkness, but they don’t even make it as far as this roof. I look out at the bay and can’t find the horizon.
And so there I’d sat, at the border of night and light, until the rockets’ red glares screamed their invasion only to rain down in tattered pieces, and the crowds cheered the failure over and over again.
I take another sip and bask in the unnatural glow.
In the morning, there are orange fish, as bright as hazard stripes, pecking at the rocks in the bay. I look down at them and wish I could join them in the water. For a moment, the urge is overwhelming, to just shuck everything off and dive in — and then it passes, and I shift the bag on my shoulder as I turn away from the sea.