Normally we do fireworks out our back but not this year. Dad can’t get them cheap so we’re going to the show across the bridge in the big field. It’s free to get in. Dad gets back from work and me and my big brother Gavin, we’re on the stair already. We don’t say anything, we just sit and look at him to see what mood he’s in. He says let me get my tea first. He steps over us and says Are you two trying to give me a broken neck?
Dad doesn’t take us in the car anymore. It’s only for work so we have to walk. You’ll be cold he says and me and Gavin, we say no we’ll not. And he says We’ll see and he’s bringing our jackets anyway. Mum isn’t coming tonight cause she has to stay with the dog. Kimmy shakes and goes to the toilet on the carpet when the fireworks go off. She did it last year so Mum thinks she’s going to do it again. Dad said something about rubbing Kimmy’s nose in the pee but I don’t know what that’s supposed to do.
So we’re on our way to the show. Now that we’re out the close it’s really cold and I’m actually freezing. But I’m not putting my jacket on. Gavin doesn’t have his on. If Gavin puts his on then I’ll wait a while and then I’ll put mine on. But not until Gavin puts his on.
Up we come to the field. There’s hundreds of people and some people are already right up at the railings. Dad says they think they’ll get a better view. He says fireworks go right up above us, you don’t need to be at the front, everywhere has a good view. One could even fizz right up and go sideways and whack you if you’re at the front, he says then gives me a wee dunt on the head.
The ground is all mucky and the muck goes up the side of my shoes. I wipe it off on the grass but once the mud gets into them they’re ruined and I can’t use them for gym at school. Dad’ll need to get me new ones but if I ask he’ll say Santa’s coming soon and I’ll say no he’s not he’s ages away and Dad will laugh at that.
Dad gets us a bag of doughnuts. To share, he says. I smelled them before we even crossed the bridge. They’re hot so you can’t hold the bag for long. We chuck it between us like pass the parcel. Gavin takes the bigger ones cause he’s older. It’s not fair and he tells me I’ll be older than him one day and I can have the bigger doughnuts then. He might be joking but he doesn’t like it when I say he’s joking cause he thinks I’m calling him a liar. I take the small doughnuts so we don’t fight. Gavin’s not a liar but he just says little lies
sometimes so that doesn’t make him a real liar. When we finish the doughnuts I stuff the bag into Dad’s hand and we wipe our fingers on his jeans.
Hello, Graham, says someone Dad knows, Here with the boys, eh?
Aye, just off work, Dad says, Not missed any have we?
Nah, not yet. They take their bloody time then it’s all over in a minute. You been doing more overtime?
I walk away cause I know they’re talking about work and I won’t care about that till I’m older. Secretly I think I might not ever care about work.
The sky is extra dark tonight. I don’t see the moon right away but then I turn around and it’s there. It’s big but not as big as in cartoons. I think it’d look really good if the moon was in the background when the fireworks are going off but we’d need to be on the other side of the field looking the other way. Maybe the moon will be over the other side when the show starts.
I ask Dad where the toilets are and he points into the trees past the stream and we know what he means. Me and Gavin run off fast as we can. Gavin gets there first and he says I’ve beat you but he didn’t cause it wasn’t a race. If it had been a race then I would’ve tried harder and then I might’ve won even though I’m smaller than him. Gavin’s always saying he wins at things that aren’t even real competitions.
Mum doesn’t let us go outside but Dad does. He says we’re not to tell Mum if we do it and that it’s only for us boys and she’d be jealous cause she can’t go like we can. We go far enough into the woods so no one can see us. Me and Gavin sword fight with our pee then wipe our hands on some wet grass. When we’re walking back Gavin pings me on the ear and I chase him but he gets back to Dad and I can’t get him now. I’ll try to ping him back later. It’s sore as anything when you’ve got cold ears and somebody pings them.
Some people have sneaked in their own fireworks. They’re tiny but still good to look at cause there’s no proper ones started yet. When they pop I point my finger at Gavin and pretend to shoot him. He pretends to fall over but stops before he touches the ground and gets muddy. Do it to me, do it to me, I tell him. He does, he shoots me and I die better like I’m in a real film and I’m in slow-motion.
This one old lady near us keeps getting a fright when the fireworks go off. So loud, so loud, she says. I say to Dad she should go home if she doesn’t like big noises. He tells me she probably had to bring her grandchildren. Here, take these and he hands me two little ear bud things. Ear plugs, he says, I brought them just in case. Go and ask the lady if she wants them. I love it when Dad gives me missions. He gives missions to Gavin sometimes but mostly me.
I run over to the lady and she looks scared from the noise. I hold out the earplugs.
Oh, are these for me? she says,
Yes, I say, Me and my dad thought you might want them.
That’s nice of you, son. She takes them from me and puts them in her ears. Wonderful! I could use a pair of these every time I have my grandson! and she’s laughing so I laugh a little bit too so she’s not laughing by herself.
Let me give you something, she shouts, but thinks she’s talking normally. She looks in her purse and pulls out a mix-up bag and hands it to me. Don’t eat them all at once, she says. I say thanks and run away with the sweets. I’ll eat them quick so Gavin can’t steal any. I open it up and the sweets are liquorice ones and I hate liquorice. Gavin likes liquorice but it was my mission so he’s not getting them and I hide them in my pocket.
I get back to Dad and I thought he was going to wink at me or say good job but he’s on the phone talking to a man from his work and doesn’t notice me. I hope he tells me
mission accomplished when he gets off the phone.
The real fireworks start and we’re all looking up. Everybody’s all looking up and if you look around you can stare at people and they don’t notice cause they’re all just looking up. Their faces go all blue or red or purple like the colour of the fireworks. They go the colour of aliens.
Staring up hurts my neck after a while and I bend it forward and touch my chest with my chin till it’s not sore anymore. Dad says, did you see that one? and me and Gavin say yes, Dad, we saw it. After the fireworks bang they crackle like popcorn in the microwave.
It’s not as good as last year, I say. Dad and Gavin don’t say anything so they must think it is as good as last year. I need to go again and Dad nods and tells me to be quick.
I run into the woods and find a different tree far away from the last ones so I don’t stand in the pee we did earlier. The branches get in the way a bit but I can still see the fireworks going off. Dad was right, everywhere has a good view. I try to make a puddle on the grass but I can’t see if I am cause it’s so dark but the sound it makes is good and crunchy and steam comes up like I’m making a fire.
I come back out the woods and off to the side I see someone lying down with a few people standing round them. The fireworks are still on so I can go over and Dad won’t wonder where I am yet. I go over to where the person is to see what’s happening.
Oh dear, oh dear oh dear, a woman says. She’s got a hankie up to her face. I get up close and a man tries to stop me looking but I look anyway cause I can see past him. Not any fucking closer, he says. I can see it’s a boy on the ground and his belly goes up and down but he doesn’t move apart from that. It’s dark so I can’t see his face very well but then a big firework goes off above me and it lights up everything and I can see that his face isn’t all there. He’s had an accident. He looks my age but I can’t tell if I know him. The man who held me back is crouched down now and says Where’s the fucking
I look around and see people are upset and crying. I think no one is coming to help cause everyone is watching the fireworks but I don’t say that, I just run away. I run really fast and it helps me not think of the boy’s face.
When I get back to Dad he asks why I was away so long. I don’t want to tell fibs but if I tell him the truth he’ll make me talk about what I saw so I just say it was a really long pee. You can’t see where the boy is lying down from here cause there’s food stands and people in the way. The man who held me back wanted the ambulance to hurry up but it’s still not here and all the people are still just looking up and talking about what firework they think is best and don’t know about the boy and the accident.
The fireworks are nearly over and I’m not bothered. I don’t think I like them anymore but I don’t tell Dad cause he’ll ask why and I’ll say I just don’t and he’ll say that’s not a reason and he won’t be happy with me. So I just watch the fireworks and say Oh did you see the size of that one?
We get home and Mum asks How was it? and I don’t say much I just say it was fine. We put our jackets on the stair for Dad to hang up and I take the liquorice and give it to Gavin. Me and Gavin run upstairs to our rooms but I leave my door open a bit. I lie down on the carpet and pretend I’m reading my book by the door but really I’m listening.
I can hear Dad talking to Mum downstairs. He’s telling her about the ambulance that
came for a boy who got hurt and how it was lucky me and Gavin didn’t see what happened. I pretended like I was surprised when the ambulance came. It took a long time and it didn’t pick the boy up and rush him away fast like I thought it would. It was still there when we left. I said Oh Dad, look, it’s an ambulance, is someone hurt? He told me he didn’t know.
They’ve stopped talking now so I go to bed cause I’m cold and we’re only allowed a shower in the morning. I shiver and roll myself tight into the covers so that it’s over me and under me too.
I dream that I’m in the field and there’s the boy on the ground still. It’s just me and him in the dark and there’s no other people or fireworks. He’s breathing and it sounds sore like he’s not breathing hardly at all and I remember that sound from before but I thought it was the fireworks. There’s no one to hold me back so I can go right up close and kneel down and I’m not worried about getting my knees muddy. I don’t see where
it comes from but a light turns on and I can see the boy’s face.
It’s just a normal face and it doesn’t look like what I saw before. He’s smiling at me and says Hello. I ask him what’s happened. He says there’s been an accident and he’s hurt. Will you be alright? I say and he tells me Of course, there’s lots of grown ups around.
Do you like the fireworks? and I tell him I don’t anymore, I’ve grown out of them. Oh well, that’s a shame he says.
I get off my knees and step back a bit. The light goes out and his face gets so dark I can’t see it. I can hear him breathing sore again and it sounds like he’s going to choke. I’m scared and he thinks there’s grown-ups around but there aren’t. I know I need to phone an ambulance but I don’t have a phone and I don’t know what to say to get them to come anyway. I see someone in the woods and it might be my dad. If I shout he’ll hear me but I’m scared he’ll be angry so I don’t shout at all. I just look out in the dark and hope something comes.