One last bash for the summer before kids went back to school, work hours picked up and the weather turned less friendly toward outdoor adventures. That was the promise. Sid, father of three and approaching just the right age to be incredibly nostalgic for lazy summers, loved every word of the neighborhood block party letter.
“Kids! We’re doing this!” He said. The flyer was placed on the fridge, held in place by a magnet for a local plumbing company that closed seven years ago, and Sid waited for the day.
Finally, the Saturday arrived. As the sun lowered, grills lit up. Neighbors gathered, coolers opened, beer bottles clanged together. Hamburgers, macaroni salad, and cookies sent their delightful smells throughout the block. Sid loved every moment of it. His children played with the Carlson kids from down the street, joined soon by the Bradley twins from across the street. He joked with other dads about the dire hopes of the upcoming football season and how their honey-do lists never seemed to get shorter over the summer months. It was blissful.
Dusk arrived. The sun set. Cicadas and crickets replaced chirping birds. Kids were slowly winding down. A few families had to call it quits and departed. Sid was sad to the see the evening closing out.
“Hey! I found some fireworks and sparklers! Who wants to party!” Tim Bradley shouted, pulling a few nondescript boxes from the back of his truck.
“Sweet!” Sid said, clapping his hands together. “Hey, kids, come on over. I’ll show you how to write your name with a sparkler.”
Tim Bradley pulled a lighter from his pocket and turned the flame toward a sparkler in Sid’s hand. A flash, a pop and a few ooo ahhs later, the sparkler was live.
“Okay, here we go. Anyone have a camera ready? This is always awesome,” Sid walked to the middle of the street and readied to entertain the gathering crowd.
Sid began waving the sparkler to find the right speed to write out his name.
“Got it!” He said. The letter S soon followed, but nothing more. Sid flailed about wildly. The sparkler’s path detailing every movement of his arms. The crowd’s curious grunts and ‘what’s going on?” questions drowned out Sid’s cries for help.
“Cicada! On me! Bug! Big bug!” He called into the night.
The only sound he heard over the cicada’s scream was the laughter of his own children. They knew exactly what was happening.