The Fire

The dry summer breeze blew insistently and this seemed all that was needed.
The fire rose up as if unleashed from the earth, and spread, claiming everything within its cruel, sinewy reach.
Its time had finally come, and the pine forest would be its victim.

The resin bubbled and crackled as trunks became furious, flaming torches. The wood shrieked in the intense heat. It was a terrible, roaring inferno. It soon seemed as if the whole world were burning.

In a clearing in the forest there was a lake. Its shores were of gravel and large, round stones. Small animals huddled together amongst the stones. Their tails and paws were burnt and their fur and whiskers singed. They were frightened and exhausted.

As the stones grew hot, the animals were driven into the shallows of the lake. They shivered with terror as the blazing trees exploded, their terrible, reflections colouring the water.

Around the lake the fire swept. It arched and swayed, licking at the stones. But the breeze was no longer its follower. The fire stabbed and hissed, but the lake remained calm. A softer breeze sent small ripples as if to comfort the animals, and the lake returned the glare of the blaze.

Soon there was hardly anything left to satisfy the fire. It groped about the glowing remnants of charred trees and bushes. There was only the lake.

The lake ignored the fire. It had already begun to reflect the whiter clouds and patches of blue sky reappearing through the thick, dark smoke.

Victim of its own nature, the fire died by the shores of the lake. It seethed and spat its last curses, like threats and promises to return, until it finally smothered itself.

In the autumn the storm came.
New, fresh grass started to grow from the scorched earth. Moss again began to colour the stones by the lake. And the lake reflected the sky.

The little survivors of the Great Fire were already busy preparing for the cold months ahead. The forest, with its deep resources, would grow back again in time.

The following spring, after a long shower of rain, when the sun peeped through the clouds, the rainbow returned.
For a moment it arched over to meet its own upside-down reflection on the lake's smooth surface.. But then there's no upside-downs for rainbows, only beginnings and ends.

From the Rainbow series

This was the last of the 'Rainbow series', of simple, short stories originally written for children quite a few years ago. 'The Pond' and 'The Fire' are perhaps the weakest amongst them, but naturally the series, the elements and the circle itself, wouldn't be complete without them.

They were written when the author was just about to become a father, and when for him, perhaps more than ever at that time, there seemed to be a wonderful order and reason for everything. A period of what one might judge to be naive exultation, when love, the circle of life, the polarity of the elements seem to work perfectly intrinsically, and universally.

In spite of the unanticipated events of life, of catastrophes and tragedies, of wonders and miracles, man-made abominations and glorious achievements, he is nevertheless still persuaded of the truth of this.

In the rainbow vignette, there are two small links. 'From' will lead to the last story. 'Rainbow', in this particular case, will lead to the first story of the series, where there is also a link to 'The Pine-tree'. From there on, and in all other cases 'Rainbow' will lead to the following story.

Text and images © Mirino (PW) February, 2011

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