As I walked home last night a stray firework went off inches from my face, dazzling me with its brilliance and leaving my ears ringing on the way home. The people who had lit it were trying to surround me, and I presume asking if I was all right, but I could hear nothing, and with the afterimage still dancing around on my retina, they looked somehow less than human.

The ringing hadn't stopped when I got home, nor had my eyes cleared. I took a shot of whiskey as a nightcap and slept. In the morning, I found myself in a world of overwhelming sound and color.

I tried to get through work, but it was impossible to focus, especially with people around. People--all these stupid, provincial people, so caught up in themselves they can't even see the world around them--were impossibly beautiful, each in their own way, even people I despised.

At lunch I told my boss I was feeling ill and I went home as quickly as I could, drawing the blinds and plugging my ears, though neither of these things helped. And I lay very still for a very long time, waiting for it to pass.

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