4th of July

by Lia Sina


I remember Spooky sprinting across the front lawn
as my cousins and I chased him with our dollar-store water guns.
I always wondered if the little black spiderweb
tattooed at the corner of his left eye had hurt.
When he fell forwards onto the ground
he laughed with his whole body and did not fight back
when we barraged him with lukewarm hose water.

I remember Aunt Lupe wheeling out a cooler
full of paletas and beer that Spooky raced us to.
Uncle Jonny grumbled that this was the first time in years
Spooky had been on the outside for the 4th.
I wondered why Spooky would ever celebrate the holiday inside
the house when he had so much fun in the yard with us.

I remember the banda music blaring so loudly
that none of us heard the sirens
until they were flashing red and blue right in front of the yard.
A strawberry paleta slipped from Spooky’s hand
and landed in the muddy grass.
“I’m sorry!” he shouted to nobody in particular
before climbing over the bars of the iron front fence.

I remember my cousins and I calling after him
while Uncle Jonny yelled for us to
get the fuck into the house.
But I gripped the fence so tightly my knuckles turned white
so I could keep my eyes on Spooky.
He had promised to play double dutch with us next
but my stomach soured with the fear that maybe we wouldn’t
get to it this time.

I remember Spooky sprinting down the street
as the police sprang out of their cruiser.
His frantic footsteps echoed against the asphalt,
and when the dirty white laces of his left Cortez came untied
I bit my bottom lip so hard the taste of iron coated my tongue.
I didn’t want him to fall.

And I remember Aunt Lupe shrieking,
“God, don’t shoot him
in front of the kids!”


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