I am notoriously good at building fires. This might be because of my weird obsession with survival books when I was in elementary school or I might have just really internalized the two days I spent at camp, also in elementary school. I can’t say I have a particular finesse or strategy for it; I just pile stuff up according to burnability, give it space to breathe, and let it go, and, most of the time, it works.
I take a lot of pride in this, in part because a group of friends once insisted I couldn’t be trusted with a lighter (why? I don’t know, but I do know that the moment their backs were turned I lit a fire so good that nearby campers came to grab a stick from us because they couldn’t get theirs started), and in part, maybe, because it’s like nurturing a temperamental and dangerous child. Feed it, care for it, let it grow.
I haven’t been able to have many backyard fires this year because of burn bans–I live in the Pacific Northwest, and there were weeks of heavy smoke turning our clear air into an acrid haze. Fire is as easily destructive as it is warming.
Anyway, here’s a drabble.
(n.) from Ancient Greek πῦρ , for “fire”
A worshiper of fire.
There is a velvet darkness, thick and soft and impossible, and it’s draped over the world like a cloth over a cage. Too long without light and life shrivels up as surely as it does with heat, but they light the fires, big, bright, and beautiful, because it is all that they can do. The stoke them higher, dangerously so, because it’s the only thing that staves off the darkness that creeps in the corners, in the places the flames don’t reach, in the shadows that dance on the walls. Sometimes the fires burn them, but they must go higher.