A FIRE IN THE DESERT

It had been a long, dry spell, but it was cold and the thought of the warmth of a fire was so inviting. The land was desert-arid; the old barn stood near the rickety house in the pale cold moonlight.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

They shivered in the night chill and talked about what fun it would be to have a huge bonfire . . . how warm it would feel, and how high it would burn . . . but too bad it was so dry.

As the night grew colder, they glanced at each other and gathered leaves and twigs and described the enormous fire they would build, if the land were not so dry. They stacked the twigs and leaves and laughed with delight as they watched the pile of kindling grow. They grew bolder in their descriptions and talked about the warmth and the light and the glow that such a great bonfire would emit.

They talked about how they could make it warmer and keep it burning. They talked about what kind of fuel would be the most effective and they stacked the pile of wood in such a way that (if they ever did build a fire) it would be the biggest and best bonfire ever.

The fantasy of the bonfire grew and grew. They began to bring different fuel sources to show each other and giggled at the outcome using those fuel sources would bring. They discussed the mechanics of a good fire. They discussed the best way to pour fuel on a fire, and then they poured some of that fuel on the pile of wood, just for an example of how it should be done.

Anticipation of the wonder of such an enormous blaze turned into mischief and the matches were brought out. The bonfire became the exclusive topic of conversation. How to build it up, fuel it higher, burn it longer . . .

They wondered what it would look like. They opened the matchbox and laughed and danced around the pile of wood in the cold, dry night air. One held the matchbox and a match out and the other taunted that it was too dark to see . . . and a match was daringly lit. A cursory comment was made about the dryness as the other chased the one with the lit match and they laughed as they tripped and fell . . . until the match caught hold of a piece of straw and blew into the fueled pile of wood, which torched into the sky in an instant.

They screamed in horror at the size of the fire and they watched in despair as a spark flew from the wood pile to light upon the barn, instantly consuming it in flames. Despair turned to devastation as a wall from the barn fell into the rickety house and fiery fury devoured it, too, in no time at all.

They sat on the cold ground, hugging their knees, as the flames burned to ashes and they looked at each other and wondered how it could have ever happened? After all, they hadn’t intended to even build the fire, much less start it. Things just happened. It was an accident, they tried to say . . .

The kindling was gathered, the woodpile was built, the fuel was poured, and the match was lit . . . but the fire was an accident.

Not planned?

Not planned?!

~

┬ędrc 1995, all rights reserved

A FIRE IN THE DESERT

Donna R. Cole

Wylie, United States

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