In her town it was illegal to light off fireworks. It was something that deeply angered Ainsley. Growing up, she had many fond memories of her dad’s holiday fireworks displays. Her mom would lay a blanket in the front yard as she and her sister Megan gathered the neighbourhood kids to marvel at the spectacle.
Those memories were impossible to reproduce where she now lived. The town council said it was a matter of public safety. But Ainsley was determined to create lasting memories for her children, just like her parents did for her.
On the Saturday of the July long weekend, Ainsley invited Megan over to spend the day. It was a friendly gesture laced with an ulterior motive. She needed Megan’s help if her plan was to succeed.
“You’ve got to joking,” protested Megan.
“What? There are no laws against it. I checked,” said Ainsley.
“That’s because nobody’s stupid enough to try it.”
“It’s safe. I looked it up on the internet,” said Ainsley.
“That’s not exactly reassuring.”
“So you’ll help me?”
Megan sighed. “Someone’s got to keep you from burning the house down.”
Ainsley smiled. “This is gonna be epic.”
Just after dark, Ainsley and her two children, Cody and Colby, along with Megan, crept into the back yard. They each carried paper lanterns held together by thin, wire frames. The children chattered away excitedly.
“Okay. Auntie Megan and I will light the lanterns. When hot air fills the paper they’ll float off into the night. I saw pictures of this online and it was great,” said Ainsley.
“Stand back. I’m really not sure about this,” added Megan.
Ainsley held open the first lantern. Megan insisted on lighting the wick. Fully inflated, it was nearly as big as they were. Slowly it rose from Ainsley’s grasp. As quickly as they were able, they lit the other three.
For a few minutes all four lanterns hovered over the back yard. The flames made each one glow bright against the gloaming. Even Megan was captivated by their beauty.
The warmth of the lanterns lifted them higher through the cool, night air. When they reached the height of the second storey roofs, they were swept away by a gust of wind.
“What’s going on? Megan, what’s happening?” asked Ainsley.
“I told you this was a bad idea,” said Megan.
Cody and Colby cheered as the lanterns flew higher and farther.
“We should follow them,” said Megan.
“No, I don’t think so. It’ll be okay,” said Ainsley. Her voice wavered slightly.
As soon as the words left her mouth, a front of low pressure hit. The lanterns dropped out of the sky like bombs. One landed in a tree. The tissue paper ignited, setting the tree ablaze. A second lantern landed on a roof, creating a small bonfire. The other two landed out of sight, but the orange glow they created didn’t bode well. Cody and Colby clapped and danced around the back yard. Megan and Ainsley exchanged horrified glances.
“Quick, in the house,” whispered Ainsley. They rushed inside and turned off all the outside lights.
Within minutes they heard sirens.
“Kids, go to bed quietly,” said Ainsley.
“And don’t mention the lanterns to any body, okay? It’s our secret,” said Megan.
“Okay mom, Auntie Megan. That was the best night ever!” said Cody.
“Yeah, the best,” added Colby.
The two scampered up the stairs to their rooms.
Once they were out of earshot Megan peeked through the curtains. “Well, you said you wanted to make memories for the kids.”
“Yeah,” said Ainsley as she slumped on a chair. “But I didn’t want it to be of me getting arrested.”