Monday, July 21, 2014

A Fire Inside

The heat assaulted me in waves and left me strangled for air.  I had never tolerated heat well. My sister had a casserole bubbling in the oven which only added to the discomfort.  The family had converged at the farm for second crop hay hauling.  For the first time in my life, I’d been left out.  I was more than annoyed.  I was totally ticked off.

Yes, everyone was looking out for me.  My health hadn’t been good for some time, the doctors couldn’t figure out why, and my family was concerned.  However, I’d grown up with everyone pitching in and didn’t like sitting on the sidelines.  In fact, I detested it, especially during hay hauling.  The least I could do was drive, but no one would let me.  A fire burned inside me.  A fear of the unknown, of what might be in store for me with my health.  With wringing hands, I paced around the kitchen table until my sister wanted to throttle me.

I slammed out the back screen door, a wave of heat hitting my face.  The cheatgrass had taken over around the square cement encasement covering the well and all along the clothesline.  I’d spent many years watching my dad burn ditches with nothing but a lighter and a pitchfork.  If I couldn’t haul hay, I could at least burn the weeds so the dogs didn’t end up with foxtails in their ears.

With deliberate strides, I went in the house, grabbed a lighter, and then headed for the stackyard to retrieve the pitchfork. No one was going to tell me I couldn’t be useful. Honestly, sitting around while everyone else was working made me feel as worthless as a pen without ink.

I bent down, lit a patch of grass, and raised my whole height, rocking back on my heels.  I’d have this taken care of in no time. The fire fizzled and went out. Humph.  I tried again, but the same thing happened.  I moved closer to the concrete well cover and lit the grass again.  This time, the cheatgrass crackled and sucked oxygen.  Like a strike of lightning, the fire burst and the flames took off.  I tried desperately to pound out the fire with the pitchfork, but obviously to no avail. What was I thinking?  I needed a shovel.

I rushed to the tool shed, but the door was locked.  I turned as the whole area by the well exploded into flames.  I rushed back to the garden hose connected near the well.  The fire had already reached it and burned the hose in two.

Looking to the fields, I screamed for help.  The men folk couldn’t hear me, and they hadn’t spotted the blaze.  The flames were nearing the back door of the house. 

What have you done?  You should have waited.  You had no business starting a fire.  What were you thinking?  Every time you get over-confident and smug you do something stupid.  Just because you watched Dad burn ditches, doesn’t mean you have the expertise to do it.

The heavy railroad ties above the well, which held a heavy metal pulley, were now ablaze.  My face burned with fear, humiliation and the heat. My sister run out the back door with a rug and started beating the flames.  I ran to her and pulled the rug from her hands, pounding at the flames myself.  I didn’t want her to get burned or hurt. This was all my fault.

I’m a total idiot. A cocky, stupid, idiot. I swallowed hard, the heat burning my throat. I heard the screen door slam, and then my sister was back by my side, beating at the flames with another rug.  God was watching over me that day.  I’m not sure how the two of us managed to extinguish the out-of-control flames.  In fact, the rest of the ordeal is still a blur.

I remember my sister and I agreed to pretend we’d had everything under control, but from the charred railroad ties, burned hose and several other burned items that had been on top of the well, anyone could see we’d lost control.  I can’t remember what the men folk said when they came up from the fields with a load of hay.

The shock and my stupidity shamed me back into the house where I should have stayed in the first place.  I learned a lesson of humility that day and a real respect for fire.  It also gave me the emotions and the authenticity to write about the power of fire and to create a believable heroine who is fearful but willing to overcome those fears in my book, Braving the Blaze.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
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Copyright: adogslifephoto / 123RF Stock Photo

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