I step out on to the balcony with Joe Connelly's Bringing Out The Dead and a can of diet coke in hand. The sky is hazy and the air is thick. For a moment I think it's because it's hot outside, but I inhale and realize what's wrong.

The smoke from the wildfire in North Carolina which is burning 40,000 acres is hanging heavy in the air. I look across the street and realize I can't see much. It's as if there is fog, only the smell permeates everything around it. I'm brought back to my first structure fire, as the smell surrounds me.

I close my eyes and think of the firefighters, the flames leaping high above the tree line. I hear the noise as trees buckle and fall, as fire eats away at the land. People are screaming orders through the dark skies punctuated by orange light.

I open my eyes and look inside through the glass door. Images of the wildfires in California flash across the TV screen in the living room and I sigh, even though I can't hear the commentary.

I take a deep breath and cough, my eyes burning from the smoke. Sirens sound all around me, bouncing off of the buildings and echoing as they lose volume. A child screams, and dogs bark. A car alarm goes off below me, and another starts a few blocks away.

I wrap my arms around myself and close my eyes tightly. I breathe slowly and close my book, tucking it under an arm. I come back inside and the smell lingers in my clothes. I shut the door and press my back against the glass.

The world is coming apart at the seams and I can't blame it. I slam my eyes shut again. As another siren carries on angrily, I lower the blinds. I am absolutely terrified.


Scott said...

Wow. That is strange writing. Surreal I guess. Reality, a memory, television, a book, and a dream collide.

Tori said...

I think living in California makes me immune to freaking out about wild fires. They're just a part of life. However, this was a fantastic piece and I really enjoyed it.

Adrienne said...

sam, you have such a wonderful way with your prose, it's almost like i can smell the thick smoke in the air myself.

Epijunky said...

Sam, you know I love ya girl.

Awesome writing... I was right there with you.

Evil Lunch Lady said...

Wow! We've had a few small wildfires here, I have a great fear of fire. Your blog sent shivers down my spine! Great writing as always!

tracy said...

Your writing is unceasingly (is that a word? Well, i just made it one!) amazing. As others have written, i feel as though i am right there with you, smelling the smoke, feeling it in my eyes, experiencing your feelings...wonderful piece of work.

(and i l o v e d "Bringing Out the Dead", both in book and movie format!)

david mcmahon said...

Your writing has such power.