I wanted to know the name of every stone and flower and insect and bird and beast. I wanted to know where it got its color, where it got its life – but there was no one to tell me.
-George Washington Carver
“Five…” Jake slurred out the word, his hands getting sweating as his countdown from ten reached half-way.
“Four…” His eyes were still shut tightly and the rubber grips on his bike handle squeaked as he twisted them tightly. Behind him he could hear the crackling of the thin chemical rops, their sparked ends slowly moving towards him.
“…Three” His brother let him light his very first firecracker on the very last Fourth of July. After that every changed. It became illegal to just run with scissors. Jakes favorite firework was the blue serpent, its color almost too bright to look at, but he still did, and for hours after every time he blinked a white star filled the darkness.
“Two…” That blue was the only color he could remember anymore. His parents tried to vaccinate him but were too late, like the rest of the world his DNA was affected by the chemicals and he lost all pigment in his skin. So did the birds and the trees. Even his brother’s car.
The hissing stopped and Jake let go brake, “One.”Jake opened his eyes and looked down the enormous hill. The street lamps glowed in their colorless grey making the white picket-fences shine with a horrible sheen. With the brakes released, he started to roll forward slowly. His brother taught him to ride when they weren’t ordered to remain indoors.
They sneak out at night for hours, until his brother would leave with his strange friends. Jake asked him to go, but he was always ordered to go home. Some days he would help them sneak into the house with stacks of taped-up boxes. His brother would hide them in the closet and made Jake promise not to tell Mom. He remembered that day when he went out to collect a similar box for his birthday.
“Hey Jake I got a surprise for you. I’ll be right back with it. I’m so excited for you to see it.”
Jake never did. He kept the box sealed shut for an entire year. Not until the war had gotten worse. Not until Dad left home and Mom cried every night. Not until he finally understood what his older brother had been collecting all those months before.
The fire crackers taped to the bike’s back wheel shot off and lurched Jake forward down the steep hill faster and faster, the windows around him now shimmering for the first time in over a year, with colors.
The artwork included in this post was created by pascalcampion, titled “The Sunday Trip Comes to an End.”
Please visit his website to see all of his artwork; https://pascalcampion.deviantart.com/art/The-Sunday-Trip-comes-to-an-end-686929327
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