Three seconds after the distant blast, a sparkling flower of crimson bloomed in the night sky, accompanied by the crackling of a thousand bursting packets of powder. Tegan whooped and cheered as she had for each firework so far, and elbowed her companion. “See, that one was perfect. We call ’em chrysanthemums back on Earth, because they look just like that flower. Just gorgeous, I say.”
“Another red one,” Turlough replied as selected a pencil from the canister beside him. “Strontium salt, probably, though that one was purpler than the last. Barium, you think? Thought that would be redder. Or maybe they mixed in something that produces blue. Copper, or perhaps cesium.” Steadying his pad, he began sketching the burst in the pool of light from the torch in his other hand.
“Oh, you!” groaned Tegan in frustration, and socked him on the arm. “You never change, do you?”
Turlough startled and stared at her. “What?
“Always the cold, emotionless scientist.” she whinged. “You just can’t stop and appreciate the beauty of it all.”
“I am!” Turlough insisted, pointing at his sketchbook.
Tegan barely acknowledged his drawing. “Yeah, but you have to pick it apart. Copper and salts and things. It’s all just cold facts to you.”
“Of course not!” At Tegan’s piqued snort, Turlough sighed and dropped the pencil in his lap. “Look, Tegan. I appreciate the fireworks just as much as you do. The colours are pretty, and that last one was perfectly symmetrical. And the whole Ancestor Day celebration here. But what’s wrong with appreciating the science that goes into producing the colours, or the engineering that creates the shapes and the timing? There’s beauty there as well.”
“Maths and physics?” she spat at him. “That’s the opposite of beauty.”
“And chemistry, don’t forget chemistry,” he added with a laugh. “But they’re hardly opposite.” She smirked at him, and he held up a finger to stop the forthcoming snark. "Think about it this way. You love flight, don’t you? I mean, that’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to do, fly in an airplane.”
“Yeah…” she drawled, quite aware of where this was going.
“That’s all maths and physics as well. How the surfaces of the plane’s wings interact with the air, how much lift is needed to get off the ground, how to navigate the winds to best advantage.” He pointed up at the sky. “It’s amazing how these huge masses of metal can fly through the air, and it all depends on the science. Tell me there isn’t beauty on that level.”
Tegan shrank back into the shadows.
“I don’t see how knowing the science subtracts from the beauty of all this. It’s gorgeous on all levels.” With a nod, he picked his pencil up again and marked in a few lines.
“I suppose you’re right,” she grumbled, “but I just can’t see it.” He glanced up to see her grin. “We’ll just have to appreciate it in our own ways.”
“That we will."