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The sky glows in the harsh rays of sun as we collect firewood.
My feet scuff the sun-warmed sand. Finally the pile is big enough and I run down to the water's edge with my sister.
Rivers of dirt run off our legs as we splash the cool water against our heated skin.
Hermit crabs creep along the sand.
Placing one on my hand, I marvel at its tiny features, scurrying as it tries to grip the roughened surface of my palm.
The crackle of dry leaves catching fire jerks me out of my observations.
''Race you,'' my sister shrieks, and I toss the crab to the side.
We sprint up the beach, jostling each other.
Arriving side by side, the sound of both of us insisting we were first is joined by Mum, scolding us for scattering sand near the food.
The fire is started now.
Plumes of smoke rise from the kindling as it crackles and spits while being prodded by my brother.
Our eyes water as the smoke drifts over to us.
We dig into barbecued meat, courtesy of Dad.
Together we sit watching the sun set as we chew.
Streaks of pinks, yellows, oranges and reds saturate the darkening sky, encasing the pulsing ball of light that dips below the horizon.
Although tea is over, the night has just begun.
Marshmallows are impaled on the sticks as we kids return to the fire.
The heat singes my face as I squat next to the open flames.
Trying to find the hottest part of the fire, I hold the marshmallow in it until I see the sugar start to blister.
The burnt sugar smell floats back to me from the fireplace.
Next to me, my brother frantically blows on his marshmallow, but it's too late.
Violet flames hiss, consuming his marshmallow into a black charred blob.
He pulls away the inedible outside, revealing the still pink insides.
The almost liquid sweet sticks to the inside of my mouth. I know there's not many left.
Wood is stacked up in a triangular shape over the glowing embers when the supply of marshmallows runs out.
In the glow of the growing fire, Mum hands us sparklers.
With the usual words about safety, we're given permission to light them.
We run down the beach and begin the magic.
The sparklers burn words that linger in my eyes as we write in the air.
The darkness is pierced with our names.
Janelle, Harriet and Philip.
The letters float, linked by the gold thread of the burning end.
The sparklers last only a couple of minutes, but are replaced with others.
I take flight along the water's edge.
A sparkler in each hand, my arms move like windmills.
Just before they burn out, I draw my arms back and let the sparklers go.
They soar out over the ocean in an arc, lighting the star-dappled sky briefly before they're swallowed by the water.
Looking back, I see my family sitting around the flames.
Sparks float up into the night sky towards the stars in the soft crackle of the fire.
It brightens their faces as they laugh in the warmth.
• By Janelle Koch, Year 12, Queen's High School