Chemicals Can Be Combined to Make Pretty Colors

Paul Reiger

Chemicals can be combined to make pretty colors. If you burn different metals they let off different shades of green and red. Indium, for instance, a metal named solely after the fact that when burned it lets off an Indigo glow. Burning a candle wick creates orange. Put the candle under a low-pressure sodium lamp and it turns black.
I can only imagine what European settlers thought when they saw fireworks for the first time. According to a handful of historical sources, John Smith set off the first fireworks in the U.S. in 1608. When we gained independence on July 4th in 1776, we also set off fireworks. Since the inception of the American use of fireworks, Americans have done what only they could possibly do; turned it bloody.Accidents happen, don’t get me wrong. When you’re 6 beers deep and your buddy thinks he finds a dud, he dares you to light it and balance it on your head for 20 bucks. You stare at the sweat-stained bill and pause, thinking about how many hands that’s been through. How discolored and crumpled it is. You shrug. You can’t feel your nose. You grab the lighter from your pocket and fumble with it. Eventually, you get the “damned thing” to light, cupping it from the wind like a smoker does with a cigarette. At first nothing happens, then you’re dead. It wasn’t a dud, you both were just drunk. Chemicals can indeed be combined to make pretty colors, unfortunately ,that includes blood red… sometimes.
I can’t help but think of this as I stand on the slightly elevated mountain road. There are mosquitoes having a buffet on my calves, rain is drizzling; kids run in and out of lines, dragging their parents around like dogs on leashes, high school freshmen cling to each other on dates, eyes darting around at the bright lights and signs. Hydraulic pistons hiss and sigh under the weight of the next generation being eyed down by parents, tired of standing. The concrete has been baking in the sun since the day started, a familiar smell of wet sidewalk hits and memories of summer as a kid comes rushing back to me. Pure, blissful ignorance with a touch of sidewalk chalk and PB&J’s. Before I know it, everything has finished. The only remnants left over are faint shimmers from the embers of cardboard and powdered metals slowly falling onto the ground like snowflakes. Only there is no snow, just damp grass and bug bites.