My Sasuke: Blooms of Fire
I’m still confused half
the time. When I see him…it’s like it’s not me, but someone else. It’s different and strange and kind of nice. It makes my head hurt. It makes me want to turn away and never look back
again. I remember the way it used to be. I recall the way it is.
He asked me.
I didn’t ask him,
but he asked me.
You want to see some fireworks?
And I reply, sure.
It’s kind of nice, really.
The thought of it.
His parents are shit heads
from hell—they do nothing but complain, lecture, compare the Uchiha brothers and then snottily laugh about the lady from down the street. She’s put on airs. The
father will say.
And the mother will laugh
sweetly and make some poor excuse. No, dear, she’s busy—with the children,
after all. She’s a very busy woman; being a high school secretary takes quite some time—
And then the father will
change the subject. I don’t want there to be any holes in my yard this year.
I wondered about that.
Sasuke smiled slyly, and his
black eyes seemed to spark. No one noticed Itachi’s smile but me. There won’t
be, Sasuke murmurs, and everyone just laughs in a dry sort of way that tells the truth.
We took the mother with us
to shoot them off.
It was kind of interesting,
really…it was my first time lighting one of the silly things. First time for a lot of things, really. Like, watching
a ‘bee’ spin up and almost hit me in the face. Laughing hysterically as Sasuke pulled me down and we just lay
there—entwined—for a minute or two.
Itachi was the one to remind
Before the mother started looking.
The father stayed home—guarding the fort—and so it was just us.
A wall of silence between the
pairs. Itachi and his mother. Sasuke and me. We sometimes went together—Itachi’s breath was warm when he taught
me how to work the lighter—and shot things off. If he wasn’t there—Itachi—I
might not have gone far enough away.
The fireworks make a hell of
a lot of noise.
But I smiled a little. Watched
the flowers of fire sparkle in the air in bursts and blasts of color. Sasuke came up behind me and put a hand around my waist.
I like the blue best. He notes.
I smile, and reply, nah, the red’s better.
Twelve years old—almost
thirteen—and I thought I was in love with my best friend. Rival. Whatever the hell he was.
We watched and watched as the
candles burned themselves out…the roman ones or whatever, and I forgot completely that that strange and beautiful day was supposed to be celebrating
country. Or something weird
like that. I just remember running away from the fireworks as Itachi calmly set the fuse and stood back—two feet—and
watched the sky. In the air—filled with smoke and smelling of charcoal—his eyes seemed red. And when the fireworks
exploded like a flower in bloom, he didn’t flinch. Didn’t blink.
I forgot to watch the fire-flowers,
and Sasuke I know, did too.
He was looking at me.
I remember that, because he
was just staring and something flickered across his face—kind of like it does now, when he’s mad, and not just—sweetly
–crazy—and his head turns swiftly to observe his brother.
His eyes are narrow and black.
Not red at all.
I asked the nurses if
they’d make an exception to the “no after dark visitors” rule, and they just laughed at me. For the fireworks, come one! He’s been lighting the things since he was old enough to understand what ‘run’
means. It’s the Fourth—
And they laughed me off. But
I think they were smiling for a good reason.
So I’m waiting in the
car, thinking about that summer when we watched the sparks of colors flying in the air…
Thinking of Sasuke from then and the Sasuke from now. And I walk up the stone sidewalk, and wonder if his
mother still makes excuses for the lady down the lane. I wonder if his dad still half
expects a crater in his yard the size of a kiddie-pool.
I wonder if Sasuke remembers
how to light a firework.
on the lever not the wheel.
How to keep your knees at the
ready—gotta get away quick or something awful might happen—and how to hold your breath as the noise starts.
It’s like watching a
shooting star…the journey up is bright and swirls in wonderful little pathways that made me clutch his hand. We were
still running backwards. When it exploded I laugh, and my eyes are—were—huge.
Sasuke isn’t watching the fire. He scoffs a little at my kid-like amusement.
That made me really, really
I went to go stand with Itachi,
next to the car. He’s sitting on the trunk—lounging, really—and he smiles a little. Pulls me up, and for
a second we’re almost embracing. But Itachi isn’t—wasn’t—a
man for showing feelings or anything like that. He just is, and I only see the
other stuff ‘cause it’s
smiles at me warily, and I
pull him onto the back. It’s crowded, and I pull him close to me. But to do so, I lean against Itachi, and the older
brother flinches. Tightened. Got up within a minute, and I realize that the mother is waiting.
“Sasuke,” I say
now. “Can’t I drop by his room? Lights don’t go out ‘till eleven…” and she just ignores
Doesn’t say a thing,
doesn’t look at me. She just mumbles something dark and indistinct, something I didn’t really hear. “It’s
always so lonesome around these empty halls…there’s not anyone here.” And her smile twitches. She messes with the paperwork, and mumbles something about a bathroom.
And take off at a quick trot
for Sasuke’s room.
We’re out of there in
His hand is so little in mine. When we were kids, it was the other way around…I got to be held by him. I kinda miss it.
It seems like I’m always holding him
It’s not fair.
But when I see him flinch away
from the huge noises—little cats do that too—I can only hold him tight, and try not to remember the warmth
shoulders, barely touching
That’s us. Barely anything
at all, now.
“Which one’s your
favorite, Sasuke?” I ask, quietly. We’re sitting on the hospital bench.
He snuggles against me for
a minute, and then roughly pushes me away. He holds his hand over his mouth and mewls
angrily. I just let him do it. And when he turns back to me, I offer him a hand. Palm up, fingers slightly folded.
I feel like I’m trying
to convince a dog or something to let me pet it.
Sasuke laughs a little, and
takes my hand. I try to lead him forward, but he pulls on me. I blink, and ask, “You want me to stand up?”
I smile. “Okay.”
Fireworks don’t really
crackle. They boom and break and shatter and rumble everything and everywhere.
Even at nine in the evening the sky’s already red.
It’s like it—
Sasuke doesn’t like it
very much, anymore. He jumps and cries and huddles away from the noise and snarls and lashes out and sobs and I don’t
know anymore, I just watch.
“Do you remember how
to light one, Sasuke?” I ask, and rub his shoulders.
He looks at me. I look at him.
“You taught me how.”
His gaze wavers. Drifts to
the light in the distance.
“You don’t use
a lighter on the big ones, really…” I continue, and his eyes are smiling.
“But I forgot what you
use,” I murmur, and his smile spreads to his lips.
He laughs a little, deep
and smooth and soft. “A cat tale.”
That was surprising. I laugh,
and grin at him. My eyes are smiling. “Yeah?” And he nods. “A cattail.” I laugh. “Uh, I think
it has another name…” but it escapes me.
He grins, and shakes his head.
The fireworks go off again and again, and I slowly rub circles in Sasuke’s shoulders.
Fireworks, I think, really
are kinda nice.
“Blue.” He says.
I look at him, and blink. “I like the blue ones best.”
I smile. “Nah, the red
ones are better.”
a quiet little grin.
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