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WWII Fireflies

The morning dawned, bright pinwheels clutched by eager children spin like rainbows while the wind chimes tinkle softly when, suddenly, planes flash overhead like fish underwater with their tails streaming out elegantly behind them like plumes of silver or ribbons of smoky water, and the cicadas began their keening hum early this year—I must cover my ears to the drone—but the sight of the metal birds and sound of the screaming cicadas bring blinding sunbursts overhead which achingly remind me of the fireworks at a summer festival, but these ones pepper the sky and earth with the most dazzling display of fleeting blossoms ever to be seen and they pour down like liquid light, transforming and embracing, so my little sister, her berry-red mouth wide, turns into fireflies before my very eyes and her pale, thin voice melts into the wind, and my mother falls to the ground laughing, laughing, laughing, laughing. . . as a profusion of cherry blossoms bursts from her head, but my father cannot help her, seeing as he’s far away on an island because it is the Showa era and the Yamato line says it is sweet and meet for Zipang; But even without him, my zori pound into the pavement because I remember his instructions given in the cool mornings before he left, even so though, grey petals brush my cheek, as I watch my fragile paper house spark into fireflies as well, and as it crumbles and the shoji screens curl up on themselves—their delicate corners folding into flaming origami—more fireflies are born from the ash and these dance with a cruel and effervescent intent around me, as gentle as butterfly wings on my skin. . . the rising sun that emerges from the gray storm clouds lights upon nothing more than ash and concrete.

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