The EFM Feature

At the exact moment I touched the door knob a large crack split the air and my stomach dropped to the patio. I’d taken the dog out for a before-bed ball throwing until it’d gotten too dark for either of us to find the ball. Just as I was wondering if the kids had, indeed, brushed their teeth, the loud bang stopped me cold.
The dog jumped and I bolted into the door, where no one stood. Austin ran into the room, and asked “What’s wrong?”
“Did you hear that?”
He eyed me suspiciously. We’d been reading books every night before bed, and it left us all a little jittery. Is that really a bird, or part of the raven king’s army trying to take over the neighborhood? Does that loud bang have an explanation, or do I need to look for our ammunition?
Of course, late June and early July in Tennessee is a wondrous place, especially on a cool summer night like this one. Large, striped firework tents pop up on every street corner, advertising things like “red neck rockets” and “screaming eagles.”
You can’t drive down the road at night without the night sky being lit up on both sides of the street, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been shocked at tonight’s blast for two houses down. Maybe three. The yards are so big that when the kids heard the successive loud noises they ran out of their bedrooms and out the door. Austin forgot his pants.
Yet another good thing about rural Tennessee — no street lights.
The kids laid on their backs on the warm cement, looking at the stars with intermittent fireworks that would’ve been the highlight of the county productions when I was a kid. Enormous blasts, echoing through the night air. I could imagine which neighbors were annoyed and which were sitting out in the dark on their porches anxiously awaiting the next one. The kids listened to each others’ stomach gurgle between the fireworks. They covered the dog’s ears. They found the big dipper.
You couldn’t quite see the neighbors, but — if you listened — you could hear whoops and hollers of approval wafting down the road.
When I forced them back to bed, Austin said, “If anyone ever comes to stay at our house because they’re going somewhere that’s too far to get to in a day and they need to spend the night…?”
“I want to wear pants to bed.”

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