The Fire Thrower

In the hazy remnants of the dark of night, in the final moments before dawn when even the birds have yet to open their eyes to sing the world awake, I jolt upright in bed. My husband is out-of-town and I’m alone, save for the two cats that slunk, with the stealth of cat burglars, to settle beside me during the night. They are disturbed by my sudden movement and, with haughty indignity and a disgusted chorus of “Meows”, they saunter away to rest without further disruption. I cannot. Something unsettling has been unearthed. Unacknowledged in the light of day, it was dredged from the shadows of my subconscious and presented to me in vivid, HD imagery, while I slept. Something difficult. Something inevitable. Something that my tense chest and weighted sighs indicate I would prefer remain concealed.


We walk hand-in-hand along a sun-drenched, gilded pathway, just the three of us: My husband, our almost-thirteen-year-old daughter and me. The azure sky is alive with flight. Blue birds, butterflies and doves perform a carefully choreographed ballet against a stage of startling blue. The fragrance of lilacs tickles my nose as I laugh. We chat freely, happily, basking in each other’s company. The surreal beauty around us is a mirror reflection of our own idyllic state: We are ‘The Contented Family,’ personified.

But in an instant the winds change. The celestial dance overhead hastily concludes before the final act, and the sun seeks shelter behind clouds miraculously morphing before our eyes into a life-imitating-art replica of Van Gough’s The Starry Night, with gusty, chaotic, tumultuous vibrancy.

A dark, hypnotic figure with searing eyes and exquisite limbs appears in the distance. He is a boy, not much older than our daughter, but he possesses a charisma far beyond his years. He holds within his grasp the power of fire. With the simple unclenching of his fists, flaming orbs soar from his palms across the sky, a meteorite shower of colour and fantasy unleashed on the heavens. The firmament is his canvas, and he paints the clouds with fireworks and light in accordance with his gestures. Stars shine brighter with the simple flick of a finger. The winds rise and fall with the rhythm of his breath. Through the eyes of a young girl, he is mesmerizing.

And with each magnetic movement she is drawn toward him. I see it in her eyes: Her moon-shaped eyes with a dreamer’s eyelashes reveal a galaxy of emotion churning inside. She is enthralled.

I panic, reaching for her, calling out against the fury of light and motion swirling around us. I struggle to keep her at my side, frightened by the elusive pull of the stranger’s spell. He doesn’t know her. He doesn’t love her. He will hurt her. But his eyes call to her with all of the heat and vivacity burning within, and he reaches toward her with a magical hand, a heat-seeking missile on course for hers, and she reaches back. And as his fingers entwine around hers, her other hand, the one holding mine, lets go.

With a glance over her shoulder and the sweetest Mona Lisa smile, she blows a gentle kiss in our direction. A hushed, “I love you,” for us, and they float away, together, cocooned in a veil of white light on a billowy cloud he stirs into existence just for her. She is gone.

“But this will end badly,” I whisper to my husband as tears overcome the confines of my eyes. 13 year-old crushes always do.

“And when that happens,” he comforts, “We will be here, waiting for her on this golden path, ready to mend her broken heart.”


At my writing group reunion not long ago we were given the writing start, “Letting Go.” At the time I wrote something entirely different, but I had this dream that night. Oh, the power of suggestion! I have felt compelled to write it down ever since. What about you? What are your stories of letting go?

2 Comments to “The Fire Thrower”

  1. Lovely. My son is just over one and I mourn each day that passes.

    • Time does fly by. I cherish each day, but like you mourn deeply the passing of the days, months, years. Who knew it would all feel so fleeting? At one, you have many happy years to keep him close. I know you will enjoy them.

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