Roman Candle

by Leo Coffey

I never told you this before, but we knew about the pills. Jacob, Uncle Tommy, James, all of us. That night you came inside to rest. The rest of us were outside shooting fireworks by the barn. It was the Fourth of July and the air smelled like hotdogs and burnt wax. I drank one too many Mountain Dews and had to pee so bad I ran inside with one hand gripping my crotch and the other holding a Roman candle. Uncle Tommy was afraid I’d light it and ran in after me. That was when we found you, the bottle still curled in your hand like a bar of soap you couldn’t get clean with. Uncle Tommy glided across the room and took the bottle from your grip and handed it to me; told me to throw it away. I buried the orange bottle inside of an empty hungry man box at the bottom of the trash bag. You finally came to after Uncle Tommy pressed on your chest to the rhythm of a song neither of us could bear to sing. Your eyes shot open to reveal two big black orbs. You asked what happened. Uncle Tommy said we didn’t know and gave me a look. He told you you must’ve gotten overheated. You looked at me. Your nose began to drip blood like a faucet. I didn’t cry, but you did, and then Uncle Tommy cleaned you up and put you to bed. I gave you a hug and shut your bedroom door behind me. After the sun had fully set, I went outside and shot that Roman candle straight into the sky. The noise of it popping sounded like pills hitting the floor

 

Leo Coffey is a senior creative writing major at UNC Asheville and originally from Bostic, North Carolina. His work has been published in UNC Asheville’s creative arts magazine, Headwaters, where he also had the honor of interning for two consecutive terms.

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