July is arguably the hottest month of the year. On a merciful day, the air was dry and hot. The sun beat high in the sky, blistering and unforgiving. But today, the sun played peek -a -boo, hiding behind the thick gray clouds that seemed to beg for release. The air was thick, moist, and extremely uncomfortable. The thud of my shoes on the concrete sidewalk beneath me seemed to grow louder with every step. In a lapse of judgment, I decided to go on a quick jog before the Fourth of July celebration-- (celebration meaning pending disaster) at my aunt’s house, a big mistake.
Blood pounded in my ears, and my pace became more strident with every beat of my heart as I rounded the corner and reached my street. At long last, I
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Satisfied, I made my way downstairs, with just a few minutes to spare. My mother was ordering my sister around the kitchen, and for a second I was grateful it took so long to get ready. I decided to contribute to the workload (as long as my dress’s integrity was not threatened) and helped carry the aluminum pans full of food down to my mother’s shiny red SUV. After I carefully placed the goodies in the hatchback, I climbed into the backseat, my head filled with thoughts about the upcoming celebration. I was so immersed in my own thoughts I didn’t notice the rest of my family get into the car.
After a short moment Mattie asked, “What’s wrong?”
I studied her bewildered expression for a moment before answering. “We’re going to Tracy’s.”
“Yes…and? We go every year.” she said, eyeing me warily.
“Exactly.” I said, my tone layered with meaning.
“Megan,” she said, pointedly “You do this EVERY YEAR!” her face was flushed with color; her ice blue eyes were annoyed.
“And every year my fears are confirmed. There is always some kind of disaster!”
“Not this year!” my stepfather interjected. “Tony and I are doing everything by the book. We want it to be perfect. We are even using your grandpa’s charcoal grill. It’s simple…old school…you can’t go wrong with that!” he said with a grin.