(Author's note: this is a bit late! But I only got the idea when I was lying on the ground listening to the loud booming of fireworks over my head. I cranked this one out in about fifteen minutes, so it's probably not the best... We'll see. I am very open to suggestions so that I can rewrite this and make it worth reading! Haha. Enjoy! ~not Ross)

Firecrackers are illegal, but so is cocaine, and that tells you what this neighborhood gets like when everyone is in a good mood. Let's celebrate America, yes please! No, more like, let's get high and pretend we like the country, yes please! Of course, they'll say it in Spanish. I don't like to use Spanish. It puts me on the same level with these people. Which I already am, but if they can pretend to like the country, I can pretend to be white.

For once, my family isn't the only family having a barbeque, but mine is probably the biggest family having a barbeque today. My family always has barbeques. I am always forced to go. I hate family barbeques. I hate my family. They talk.

A lot.

Like last year at this time my aunt spent half an hour trying to pry the name of my non-existent girlfriend out of me; she thought I was just being shy and denying having one, but I wasn't. I didn't have a girlfriend. I don't have a girlfriend.

The year before six of my cousins (a small percentage, mind you) were instructed to entertain me for the entire duration of the party – hours and hours and into the night. After not too long, they resorted to playing the stupid icebreaker games that my high school made us play on freshman orientation day so long ago. That didn't last. I told them to go away. They were happy to leave. At least kids my age get the message. People as old as my parents tend to be really oblivious to things like that.

My family doesn't know how to leave people alone.

Tonight is the last night I'm ever going to have to worry about that, though. This time I didn't put up a fight to come here. That should have told someone something. But they all just assumed I'm finally loosening up. My aunt will probably assume that I'm proud and happy to talk about my "girlfriend" – who I'll never, ever meet. I know that.

It's starting to get dark. I don't have that much longer to wait. I don't have that much longer to stall. I'm wedged between the fence and my uncles garden shed, back where the rats and the spiders live. I wish I could be a rat. No one ever tries to talk to a rat, so a rat never has to do anything like this to keep people away. Starting tonight, no one will ever want to talk to me again. It'll be heaven. Heaven behind bars, but at least jail is quiet. If they ever catch me. The fireworks start at nine. I have forty seconds. I've been holding the gun, but it's still cold in my hand.

Because it's easy to shoot people on the 4th of July.