Very little can pull Quid away from books and articles and reports. She isn’t fond of TV or radio or movies and video games and board games never hold her long, but the thud of exploding shells overriding her heartbeat gets her every time. She remembers old, worn blankets spread over dewy grass and the smell of the heat leeching out of the asphalt and the deep scent of damp dirt. The sounds of a carnival in the background, barely discernible and easily forgotten in the explosions of color.

She went with her mother, then with Beatrice, then by herself, and at the end of high school with horny groping boys. She can remember the cool breeze on her bare stomach, his mouth panting in her ear and the sky bursting with red, purple, and green. Quid doesn’t recall his name, but she knows he was a good kisser and that he was the last boy she watched fireworks with until Michael who had taken her out on a boat and shown her the beauty of fairy lights sinking into the ocean. He thought her awe and excitement was cute and stroked her hair indulgently while she gasped and pointed out her favorites. When he broke up with her, the magic of fireworks went with him and she was too busy for them anyways.

She mostly forgot about them until Galen coaxed her outside one unextraordinary summer night and helped her shoot off bottle rockets and small, colorful fireworks. He lit three packs of sparklers and tried to make a circle around her, telling her to dance for the fairies, but the first one was always out by the time he lit the last one. With the fourth pack of sparklers he wrote their names in the air and pretended to cast spells. They set off full packs of firecrackers and startled Elita, and Quid laughed and laughed.

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