I grew up on the North Shore of Boston, where fireworks are always shot over the water, a spectacle best watched from the cold sand of the beach at night, or, if you’re lucky, a boat, where folks blast air horns in approval at the sight of the best explosions. It was just before the 4th of July when I first read Claire Vaye Watkins’s “Man-O-War,” and all those memories came flooding back, but without the water. Set on a desert lakebed in Nevada, this beautiful short story follows an old miner named Harris, still working his few small claims and hoping one day to strike gold. On the side, he wakes up early on the morning of July 5th and scavenges fireworks left behind in the desert by local drunken teenagers. What he finds instead one day is a young pregnant girl, beaten and abandoned. He takes her home and while he cares for her, discovers something he thought he’d lost–one last chance to spark to life before burning out into the darkness. Claire Vaye Watkins does an extraordinary job capturing the spare life of this lonely miner, building the tension of his fragile hopes until the final pages. You can find out more about how Claire wrote this story, and the inspiration behind it, at her Q&A with us. But for now, let’s sit back and watch the show she’s created, and when the colors spin and dazzle and boom, blow our airhorns, OOO and AAAHHH.