Dina and Darlene Tunnel’s First 4th of July Alone—Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!

Across the country, it will be like Christmas time, ringing of bells. Across the country, a warranted eventual warning sign. Ring, we would hear, come running, underneath the bell here we are. Across the country, into the basement, God Bless America, it is July and the bells are even further south, the King of the Forest is no longer the King, de-crowned on this day of independence. Across the country, the bell rings, and we respond, we look to the sound together. Here is the time that we can remember our feelings, we can remember the ways in which we are who we are. Today across the sea, I cannot remember anything but the silence. We are in France, in Paris, we are celebrating the 4th of July, which no one cares about there. We light sparklers that a police officer puts out, says “Pardon” in French, says “you cannot do that here on the plaza” in English, and we put them out like cigarettes that burn the soft folds of our hands. Across the country, across the fence there is need and want, we are all de-crowned, sitting in our own sweat, waiting. Here we are, bells and bells. We are in the basement with the fireworks that pop too close to my eardrum, deafening the right ear. I cannot see out of the left eye. Across the city in the west, there are no fireworks this year, every surface area of land from here to the state border is on fire. Out west, so much fire. Out west, so much fire. I cannot see out of my left eye, cannot hear out of my right ear. In the city in the west, deaf, blinded.

Katie Jean Shinkle is the author of one novel forthcoming from Blue Square Press, as well as four chapbooks including As Close to Smiling as You Can Get (The Cupboard, 2012), where other Dina and Darlene Tunnel stories appear. She is a doctoral candidate in creative writing at the University of Denver.