Building fires (fiction)

Building fires (fiction)

He scrambled over the fence and fell into the gazebo, face first into the sawdust and ash and spilled wine. They had sat here the night before, the seven of them, contemplating their fate. He did not think there was such a thing as their fate. It hadn’t worked, this plan of Emily to break the spell of silence and share memories of her. They had drunk wine. They had drunk vodka. They had drunk whatever they could find, whatever they could afford. But they had not talked.

He stood up and touched his nose. It wasn’t even broken, too bad. He could have used the excuse to bail. He sat down on the wooden bench and tried all the pockets of his black denim jacket until he saw the lighter on the table. There were still some twigs and branches in the fire pot. He lit them and spent some time shaping them into a tepee form. When the fire was starting to become something, he lit up a fag. He would have to buy new ones this afternoon. He could take the blue bike and cycle into town. Done and done.

He didn’t understand why he had come on this trip, but it didn’t matter, he probably wouldn’t have anything else to do at home either. At least here, he could build fires. The tension between the others grew each day, he could feel that. Sometimes he uttered the senselessness of it all, but they would just smile vague smiles as if that’s what he always said. As if that was the person they knew. As if his behaviour was endearing.

He stared into the fire and blew the ashes of the end of the cigarette. She had been a smoker too and they had shared cigarettes before, once or twice. Stories about drugs, also. She had been fun to hang with. One of the longer branches fell out of the fire pot and he kicked the smouldering edge. Well, now she was dead. And the others wouldn’t be able to change this vacation into a lively one. He’d better go and buy his cigarettes.

(2015)

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