The Lantern Festival by Cillian McCarthy

Brilliantly written piece…

The Lantern Festival

 I stand in the middle of a loud, bright street, with colourful paper lanterns hanging from the many shop fronts that surround me. The neighbouring rooftops and stands have been covered with lights in a rainbow of colours and, when coupled with the lanterns, make everything around them seem to give off a slight glow. Stands in the street sell various snacks and sweets that nearby children are more than happy to buy. It is the day of the Chinese Lantern Festival and the locals are eager for the night’s festivities to officially begin.I am jostled around by the other partygoers as they make their way through the town. Stilt-walkers lurch past me as Chinese dragon puppets parade through the crowds.

Fireworks blaze in the night sky and firecrackers are set off with loud bangs. Paper lanterns are being prepared to be flown over the town. The first few practice lanterns have already been sent floating up into the air. More elaborate lanterns have been set up in certain sections of the street, with some even being stylised to represent animals, like dragons and birds.Suddenly, a strong wind blows through the town. The few lanterns in the air are sent plummeting down to the ground below. The sudden gale tears through the larger lanterns, driving them against the rooftop tiles. Lights on the rooftops burst and wink out, with their absence casting a dark shadow over the town. The townspeople
 cry out in shock, rushing aside to avoid being crushed by the falling lanterns.

The sky rumbles with thunder and is streaked with bright bursts of lightning as an unforeseen storm crashes over the town. Rain lashes down from the heavens, as if poured by some invisible god. It soaks the crowds and extinguishs the flames that burn inside the remaining lanterns. Children squeal and scream while being pushed under cover by their concerned parents. Stall owners hide as much of their wares as they can from the storm.Then, just as quickly as it had arrived, the storm vanishes. Townspeople step out of the covering that shielded them from the rain and stall owners recover the food they managed to save. Everyone looks around to examine the damage and see what can be salvaged. The few lanterns that survived the storm are relit, performers resume their acts and the street is once again enveloped in noise. Peace is restored and the party continues.