Fire

All posts tagged Fire

On bad days and good days, and how they can come one right after the other.

Published February 13, 2015 by mandileighbean

Today is Friday the 13th, a notoriously unlucky day.  A coworker was married and kissed his new wife for the first time during the ceremony.  I realized that I’ve been chasing the ghost of a good thing and that it is finally time to give up the ghost.

It all started with candy hearts, the chalky kind that no one really enjoys to eat but that everyone loves to read.  I put them absolutely everywhere I could, almost as if I thought they were cleverly symbolic of all the real love I had to give.  But they ended up in the trash and I was followed the metaphor, I would conclude it was pretty much accurate.

I am going to eat chocolate and drink and sleep until I feel better, or at least become numb to what should be familiar disappointment and terrifying assumptions.

Please excuse the pity party; I am a single woman on Valentine’s Eve.  I’m entitled, I believe.  And give me some credit for not going to see “Fifty Shades of Grey.”  In that sense, I am trying to retain my dignity.  But in all sincerity, I suppose that makes me as original and genuine as a cop in a donut shop.

WRITING PROMPT #21: A police detective is assigned to a case involving arson at several Krispy Kreme donut shops.

Mark sat in the cruiser with the blue and red light whirling and twirling above, but the sirens were silent.  He had a clipboard perched on his lap with tedious paperwork that he had retreated to fill out.  Mark had finished the paperwork some time ago, nearly thirty minutes, but had been extremely hesitant to leave the car.

Walking into any donut shop in a uniform was difficult enough.  The trite jokes, snide comments, and sniggers of laughter were irritating and overplayed.  However, walking into a donut shop when the uniform was stretched tight around an ever-expanding, rotund middle was proof that God was insensitive and cruel.  It didn’t seem to matter that the shop was only so much ash and rubble, the unfortunate victim of an impressively vindictive and awfully clever arsonist.  It didn’t matter that Mark was there to investigate and bring about justice in whatever form was most appropriate.  All that mattered was that he was a fat cop walking into a donut shop.  That kind of material practically wrote itself.

Sighing heavily, Mark tossed the clipboard onto the front passenger seat.  He turned his head to look at the scene, milling with onlookers – only a very few were witnesses and even less were helpful – and firefighters and employees.  He had absolutely no desire to face any of them.  He looked away, across the street to the stores that lined the street.  They were still standing, and he caught the reflections of the lights in the storefront windows.  He watched the blue and red chase each other round and round for a few moments before his eyes lit on his own reflection.

Sighing heavily, Mark tossed the clipboard onto the front passenger seat.  He turned his head to look at the scene, milling with onlookers – only a very few were witnesses and even less were helpful – and firefighters and employees.  He had absolutely no desire to face any of them.  He looked away, across the street to the stores that lined the street.  They were still standing, and he caught the reflections of the lights in the storefront windows.  He watched the blue and red chase each other round and round for a few moments before his eyes lit on his own reflection.

An obtuse officer; a portly policeman – Mark could think of a million and one clever ways to describe himself, but such self-deprecating declarations did little to change or even mask the reality.  He was unhealthy.  He wasn’t appealing.  It had been years since any woman had even talked to him, let alone offered him a second glance (even out of sheer pity).  He was a living, breathing travesty; he was an awkward and atrocious version of himself that he had never envisioned, never aimed for.

Life was funny that way, he supposed.  His bottom lip quivered, threatening tears and wouldn’t that just be the icing on fat boy’s cake if he started sobbing like a little girl in the squad car.  He pushed his pudgy fists against his eyes and waited for the tumultuous moment to pass.

A knock on the window snapped Mark out of it.  His hands dropped to his lap and there was his partner, bent at the waist to better peer into the cruiser.  Mark rolled the window down.  “What’s up?” he asked in what he hoped was a casual tone.  Would his partner know he had been about to cry, that he was so weak as all that?

“Some guy says he saw some crack head running from the flames with a gas can.  Sounds like a promising lead.”

Mark nodded.  “Sure does, I’ll be right out.”

His partner nodded and walked away.  Mark rolled up the window again.

He wondered how much longer he could stay just where he was without raising suspicion.

On noises.

Published December 15, 2013 by mandileighbean

WEEKLY WRITING PROMPT #8: “While relaxing on his porch swing, a pig farmer hears a tremendous crash in a nearby field.”

Bob Jones was a farmer who had seen and done many things in his less than extraordinary life.  None of his endeavors had been exactly noteworthy, nothing to write home about as they say, but he had one or two anecdotes that could be employed over beers, or to stave off the ever-lurking awkward silence, that were, at the very least, quite entertaining.  With his boot heels resting on the wooden railing of his rambling front porch, Bob looked out upon the burning, setting sun.  It had been a long, hard day, filled with menial maintenance and more extensive manual labor – fixing broken fences and unreliable machinery – that left his body sore in a special, fulfilling way.  He could feel heat coming from his face in waves and knew that it’d be nice and crisp come tomorrow.  Despite the aches and burns, Bob felt good, really good.  The embarrassingly antiquated radio on the floorboards beside him was crackling out some cover of Hank Williams, Jr.  It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t completely terrible, so Bob tolerated it and after a verse or two, actually began to believe the song added to the atmosphere perfectly.  He was at peace with everything and everyone around him and at this particular moment, that was enough.  He took a long, steady drink of beer from his favorite mug, which he had frosted all day for this very occasion.

All that he cherished of the day was shattered in one loud metallic crash that chilled Bob to his core.  It was big, it was bad, and it was loud – it was a cacophony that announced the arrival of something awful and unnatural, something like death.  In the impending, eerie silence, Bob got to his feet slowly and stood simply, straining his ears for more, for some kind of screams, some kind of sirens, some kind of logical continuation.  It did not seem possible for the displeasing and varied sounds of chaos to sound so suddenly without some rational conclusion.  The silence made it worse, left the ending open to be written any kind of way.  Bob waited a moment more before taking off, bounding down the steps to the soft dirt.  He pumped his arms and legs past the stables, past the barn, through the rows of corn, and damn near tore up the field of grain that marked the end of his property, along which lazily snaked a country road that led to a small town with a single stoplight.  It was all Americana and perfect and picturesque.  But the crash had been as mighty as a resounding tear in the fabric of reality itself.  His lungs burned from the effort, his chest heaved, and his already aching muscles were singing, but he ran and ran until he spotted what he assumed had caused the commotion.

What had once been a beautiful, jet black sports car was now nothing more than twisted hunk of metal.  The car had plowed into a post well beyond the shoulder and such an excess of speed that it had impossibly wrapped itself around it, been morphed and warped into fragments that could not possibly be combined into anything of use, let alone a vehicle.  Steam was billowing from where the engine would normally reside and Bob assumed the car was moments away from catching fire.  In a moment’s decision, he hurled himself forward to the driver’s side.  Had anyone survived, Bob would have to extract him or her and pull them to safety, far from the explosion waiting to happen.  Bob had underestimated his speed and could not gracefully slow to a halt at the window.  He collided against it, breathless and sweating and terrified.  He looked through the opening where the window should be.  It was open, not shattered, and had been securely rolled down and away.  As a result, there was nothing separating Bob from the horrific tragedy before him; only air.  Slumped against the wheel was the terribly young and beautiful face of a man.  It was smeared with blood, and his dark hair was matted with it, but his green eyes shone bright, sparkled and gleamed through the absolute carnage.  His rusted-orange tee-shirt hung loosely on his thin frame so that Bob could see his chest falling rapidly.  His breathing was rapid, but the rest of him was still, as if this young man had already resigned himself to a particular fate.  He was dying.

“Hang on, man,” Bob yelled.  Later on, he would wonder why he yelled.  He had no other noise to shout over.  “I’m going to call an ambulance, just stay with me!”

The young man did not stir and in no way acknowledge that Bob had spoken, let alone yelled.  He stared at a landscape Bob could not see; all Bob could ascertain that it was somewhere near the lower left side of the man’s vision.  He licked his lips and wheezed, “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Bob replied automatically and Bob was always glad he said that.  “I’ll be right back, I have to get to the phone.”  Bob reached in with every intention of squeezing the young man’s shoulder, of providing the poor guy with a human connection, the comfort of a human touch, but Bob thought better of it.  He would be horrified if he somehow further injured the already decimated body or, worse, inadvertently killed him.  Bob took off again, running as fast as he possibly could, when a second catastrophic noise filled the air.

It was the car exploding.  It burst into flames.  Bob turned slowly and dropped to his knees.

porchswing

On squirrel crossings.

Published October 9, 2012 by mandileighbean

The other day, when I was driving home from Sussex, I saw a squirrel dash across the Garden State Parkway – across five lanes of speeding traffic – to the other side.  He scurried amongst leaves and shrubs safely and smile spread across my face.  I wish I had that kind of daring and tenacity.

Sometimes, in the morning when I am driving to the high school, I scan through the radio stations.  Inevitably, the dial lands on Bible Thumper radio, which features men who sound impossibly old, who gasp out sermons of fire and brimstone, demanding that we all repent.  I like to leave the station on for a minute or two because I like the eeriness that fills the front of my car.  The streets are usually deserted, my dying, dim headlights lighting on nothing but pavement and painted white lines.  The change that lies discarded in one of two cup holders and clangs irritatingly around in the space as I drive is the only other sound.  It is not comforting; it is unsettling, but I enjoy it all the time.  I suppose that makes me weird.

More and more, I am realizing that the more things change, the more they truly do stay the same.  My belief – or faith? – in a common human thread is affirmed on a daily basis.  Human beings may age physically; hair may grey, joints may weaken, and lines may form, but emotionally, they can be as childish and as whimsical and romantic at seventeen as they can be at ninety-seven.  That knowledge, that possibility, gives me hope and makes me smile time and time again.

Lately, I am becoming more and more obsessed with romance.   I worry that this could be dangerous; dangerous to myself, to those around me, and to my writing endeavors.  To make this obsession more of a contagious disease, enjoy the following passages from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  Also, please note that I have booked a hotel room for Salem, Massachusetts.  At least I make good on some promises.

 

“’Because,’ he said, ‘I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you—especially when you are near to me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame.  And if that boisterous Channel, and two hundred miles or so of land, come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapped; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly.  As for you—you’d forget me.’”

 

“’I tell you I must go!’ I retorted, roused to something like passion.  ‘Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you?  Do you think I am an automaton?—a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup?  Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?  You think wrong!—I have as much soul as you—and full as much heart!  And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you.  I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal—as we are!”

%d bloggers like this: