When I was young I was happy, not by accident but by design. I smiled, huge and broad, at anyone who passed me in my pram. I was wheeled around the streets by the youngest of the family, the pram old and battered and once their own. Once their parents lay stupefied in its embrace.
Most people were happy to see me. They laughed and pressed small coins into the hands of my young guardians. “That’s for him,” they would say with a conspiratorial wink. “He’s a good one.” That made me happy. I was good, they were right. The old people liked me more, they said I reminded them of being young. I smiled at them the most.
The days were short, and I was taken home before dark. There were so many in the bedroom that I spent each night in the kitchen, the cooling stove just giving enough heat to those of us so unlucky as to be in there. I still smiled at the cracked ceiling.
Now my time has passed, I have come of age. Tonight I am out after dark, wheeled and whirled around amid excited chatter, fizzing lights, and children with sparks dancing in their eyes. I am king tonight, and my throne is fire. Tomorrow I am ash, and I shall smile no more, but tonight I can rest my head and smile as the stars explode.