“Reach for the stars!” they cry.
“Reach for the fiery pit!” I reply.
High or low, both are fire,
Not some goal to desire.
Say, “Reach for a flame!”
You’ll burn just the same.
The long climb over the railing.
Matt backed away instantly. His eyebrows lowered, and he kept his gaze fixed on the flickering light. When it did nothing but glow and heat under the circle of the burner, he hesitantly moved by it for a mug and the tea tin. Every few seconds his eyes darted back to the fire.
He set the supplies on the table and turned back to the stove. The low sound the fire made was almost more a pressure in his ears than a noise. He closed his eyes and listened to it as best he could, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t pick out any meaning. Finally, he opened his eyes. Scratching his head, he shrugged uncomfortably.
“Thank you for heating the water,” he whispered in a carefully respectful tone. The light of the fire flared white for an instant, and Matt’s breath caught.
“What are you doing?”
The hiss from behind him had Matt spinning so fast that he nearly knocked over the chair next to him. Sarah stood in the doorway in her pale nightgown, looking like an annoying little ghost. He sank down into the chair in relief.
“I’m making tea,” he said just as quietly. “Go back to bed.”
“I can’t sleep.” She sat across from him. “I keep hearing the wind. At the windows.”
She shivered, and Matt swallowed hard. For a moment, they sat in silence. Matt knew she was scared, and he knew it was his fault. If he hadn’t disobeyed Mom and Dad and played frisbee, today wouldn’t have happened. His fingers traced restless patterns on the table in the growing silence. Finally, they hesitated.
“Mom made it stop,” he realized out loud. Excitement flowed through him with a rush of giddy relief. He reached out and pressed his hand flat on the table in front of Sarah, leaning in over it. “She knew how to make it stop without making it mad!”
In the darkened kitchen, he stood for a moment, staring at the cold stove and the dark shelves. He rubbed his gritty eyes and leaned on the table. He wasn’t really sure why he’d come in here. He wasn’t hungry at all. He’d barely managed swallow a few bites at dinner, and with the knots in his stomach, he couldn’t imagine eating anything now. He stood for another moment before sighing and taking down their old scarred kettle. Mom and Dad always made tea when someone was upset or needed to calm down. But that was for little worries. Matt frowned at the worn metal and finally shrugged. If it didn’t help, at least it would give him something to do.
He pumped the water as quietly as he could, but his hand jerked, knocking the kettle into the sink side as he realized why Mom had insisted on putting in an indoor pump and sink. His breath caught and his shoulders tensed. The kettle hit the sink again. The metal clang rang out in the still darkness. He froze, but the only sound he heard was the trickling water.
Blowing out a deep breath, Matt carefully set the kettle on the burner. Pulling out the matches, he removed one and then reached for the gas. His hand paused an inch from the knob, and he frowned at it for a minute before finally switching it on. The quiet hiss sent a shiver down his spine. Swallowing, he struck the match and poked the tiny flame under the burner. It caught with a whoosh, the blue light stinging his eyes in the darkened kitchen.
Concrete gets to be comfortable after a while. Familiar, anyway. Too many years of sitting on sidewalks makes a couch or chair too soft and too warm. Not that most folks let you, but that’s part of it, too. “Normal” changes. Even hot water feels strange. Or a full stomach.
Well, the three month anniversary of this project skipped right by me (actually, the second one did, too). It’s hard to believe that it’s been 3 months already (and at the same time, it’s not hard at all). I wasn’t sure I’d make it this far, but although there have been some late posts (and some technical glitches), I’ve been pretty consistent about writing for this every day. Yay! Break out the party favors!
It’s been a little strange – I don’t usually let anyone see my rough drafts as I’m writing, so that’s pretty nerve-wracking. I’m still not sure how far I’ll get before I break and go back and make revisions… But I’ve said that before (and probably will again). Other than typos, it hasn’t happened… yet.
Also, writing and posting each morning means that my brain tends to focus on the same subject matter. I have been trying hard not to give you too many poems and short stories about needing more sleep or caffeine. That’s about all my brain wants to think about first thing. If you see me trending in that direction a lot, feel free to let me know. If it becomes too much of a struggle, I may end up switching it to nightly posts, so be forewarned about that possibility.
On the plus side, I did get some short stories up. I didn’t get any plays written for this yet, so that’s my goal for the next round. Since the major goal is to keep the experiment going for at least a year, I have 9 months to get a play added. (I shouldn’t have told myself that.)
And, of course, the most important part of an anniversary: Thank you all again for reading! You guys are awesome! It’s so exciting to know that people are reading these posts, and I’d love to hear from you! Seriously, you’re welcome to send me prompts or comments at any time. If I get super ambitious (or find some free time stacked away somewhere), I may put up a survey or something. But for now, thanks for reading, and I hope you keep enjoying the random things I write!