the differences are none too subtle; he is coarse where she was soft, black gas station coffee where there was a ten-word order at starbucks, dark and fast to block out warm, tranquil sundays spent mapping out the lush skin of her back and at the bend in her leg and the crease of her thigh.

independence day with her is summertime with her family. it's a neighborhood barbeque and mixing potato salad at ten in the morning, laughing at the smear of mayonnaise that somehow winds up on the tip of her nose and on the shell of your ear. it's eating more grilled food that you ever have before, looking like you just finished a bloody hunt with the sauce dripping from your hands. it's posing for photographs that end up dated on the back in careful pencil and then shoved aside for the weekend when they finally organized the photo album, because they will get to it one of these days, really.

with her, the fourth of july is standing in a deserted cul-de-sac at eleven-fifty-six, lighting sparklers that fall from their hands when she reaches up and pulls you down and you open your mouth to hers, tasting the leftover wax from her red lipstick. it's the embers that fade into the driveway at your feet.

with him, the great american holiday is a blanket that you spread over the dusty grass, and you watch the light shows from a distance. a rocket flying too close explodes in a shower of a hundred colored sparks overhead and when you are too busy watching, he grabs your collar and shoves his tongue in your mouth.

he pushes your shoulders into the ground and there's this rock digging into your back through the blanket and it's gonna be a hell of a bruise tomorrow, but right now you don't care. he breathes hot on your neck and pulls at your clothes. when you finish and roll apart, the last flare goes off in the distance, and then all falls quiet except for the crickets and the rustle of the grass in the breeze.

a/n: why does this feel like fluff? eh. blame it on a challenge (prose, "red," "lush" and "tranquil").