An orange firework burst overhead.
“Where do the sparkles go after they fall out of the sky?” Annika asked her family. “Do you know?”
Her little brother, Ben, gurgled and waved his tiny fist. “Great question,” her mom said as she offered Annika a slice of watermelon. Her dad said, “Hmm,” and adjusted his camera’s lens.
Annika flopped down on the blanket her mom had spread on the grass. A white-and-gold firework blossomed high above the trees, and they heard a pop-pop-bang! echo down by the lake. Annika tipped her head all the way back. She watched the sparkles drip like glittering spray from a fountain before they disappeared into the dark. Kids were running between blankets all over the hilltop, kicking soccer balls, waving streamers.
This was her favorite day of the whole summer.
Do the sparkles turn into stars? Annika wondered. Do they land in the treetops? Do they puddle up at the bottom of the lake in a mound of glitter?
Two red fireworks shot across the sky like comets and burst into bright white lights that blinked on and off. Ben screamed happily and threw one of his shoes across the blanket. Her mom laughed and put it back on his foot. Her dad said, “Wow, look at that one!” and took a photo.
“Can I go look for sparkles?” asked Annika.
“When the show is over, honey,” her mom said.
Annika wiggled her fingers like fireworks at Ben and said, “Ka-boom!”
After the show was done, all the families clapped. They talked about what a great fireworks show it was and wished each other a happy Fourth of July. Annika sighed. Her favorite day of the whole summer was almost over. Everyone started packing up to go.
Annika gathered the watermelon rinds and helped her mom fold the blanket. Annika’s dad put away his camera and picked up Ben. Then Annika tugged her mother’s sleeve. “May I go look for sparkles, please? Just for two minutes?”
“OK,” Annika’s mom said. “But stay where we can see you.”
Annika ran to the edge of the field and looked around.
There were no orange sparkles in the grass. There were no red sparkles in the trees.
But hanging in the air, where the field met the trees, were dozens and dozens of sparkles like the white-and-gold fireworks. They were blinking on and off. Annika reached out to touch one.
It landed on her hand.
A firefly! It had tiny wings and little legs that tickled as it crawled across her palm. It flashed once, twice, and then zoomed off into the trees.
Annika smiled. Maybe the fireworks were over, but she knew where to find sparkles for the rest of the summer.