Fireside

December 10, 2011
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She threw her two sticks away in anger and in disgust. Elizabeth had been trying to start a fire for two whole days, but hadn’t produced as much as a spark. She was tired, hungry and sick of being in the wilderness. Landon, her travelling companion and fellow escapee, still had not returned from his hunting trip. He was only armed with a small bow and a handful of arrows- not exactly prime hunting gear.

Elizabeth nudged a pile of sticks with her foot, brooding silently. The ex-acrobat hated feeling incompetent and useless. She had been taking care of herself for four years, since she was fourteen. Life in the circus was difficult and distant. Even though she spent most of her life with the carnies, love was not a concept she was accustomed to. Her parents didn’t raise her like they should have. It wasn’t unusual to leave a teenager to fend for themselves in the circus. Elizabeth prided herself on being self-sufficient. She would strut her independence around like a peacock. Now, she was reduced to scowling at a mere pile of sticks instead of figuring out a way to overcome that obstacle.

“Light, you accursed thing!” She snarled, lurching forward to grab the same discarded sticks that she cast away earlier.

She began to rub them together so violently that the muscles in her arms screamed in protest.

“Having problems?”

Through the bushes stepped a robust young man. His brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail, a few wisps of hair framing his face. The setting sun cast a warm glow across his coffee colored skin and made the young man seem unreal. There was a bow slung carelessly over his shoulder, along with a freshly killed hare. Landon Khal looked awfully proud of himself as he strode toward Elizabeth.

“I only had one request- make a fire before I return- and you still could not comply?” Though the words would have sounded cold coming from someone else, Landon was merely bemused at his companion.

“I have tried!” Elizabeth insisted indignantly, standing up to her full height and presenting the sticks to him.

Landon took one look at what she presented and scoffed. He dropped his belongings beside her and took the sticks from her hands.

“Well, the first problem is that these sticks are too damp. You will never be able to produce a fire with these,” He flung them away mindlessly and set to searching for two, more acceptable, sticks.

Elizabeth huffed, her cheeks reddening in embarrassment and anger. Landon, once again, proved that he knew much more about survival than she did. The idea both infuriated and humbled the girl. She trailed behind him like a puppy, watching with calculating eyes.

“How was I supposed to know that?” She grumbled immaturely.

Landon said nothing, but glanced her way pointedly. His search did not take long; he soon produced two, sturdy sticks that were void of any moisture. An arrogant smirk played on his lips as he saw Elizabeth’s lip curled into a sneer.

“Fire and water obviously don’t mix well,” He told her in a very berating manner. The ex-fire juggler seated himself in front of the pile of sticks that was the fireplace.

Elizabeth joined him, crossing her arms over her chest. She rolled her eyes with a sigh, watching as he began to rub the sticks together. He didn’t rub violently, as she had, but instead used steady, careful strokes. At first, the girl doubted that he was going to be successful, but soon, small wisps of smoke trailed from the sticks. A couple sparks leaped into the air, scattering like birds. Landon blew down gently, coaxing the sparks towards the pile. As one caught on some dry leaves, the fire began to emerge. Flames leaped and licked at other sticks, igniting them as well. Soon, Landon had a decent sized fire going, warmth radiating towards the teenagers.

“That isn’t fair,” Elizabeth stared, dumbfounded, at the crimson flames, “I couldn’t even get one spark!”

Landon’s laughter filled the air around them. He ruffled her hair affectionately, and then rested his arms on his knees.

“You simply are not used to working with fire. Remember- it was my specialty after all,” He smiled cheekily, gently prodding the pile to keep the sticks burning.

“That much is true,” Elizabeth allowed, crawling closer to the heat source, “If this had been a test of our flexibility, I’m sure I would have been much better than you.”

“I have no doubt in my mind,” Landon hummed in response.

They sat in silence for a while, Elizabeth just trying to keep warm and Landon working on skinning the hare he had caught. The situation felt very savage to Elizabeth, though she couldn’t really complain. If she and Landon had stayed in the circus, they would most certainly have been dead by now. She shivered at the thought, her gaze straying to her companion. She watched his expression illuminated by the fire. His brow was creased in concentration, creating little wrinkles across his forehead. He looked very deadly, sitting there with his blade and his hands covered in a thin layer of blood.

He very much resembled fire, in Elizabeth’s opinion. He was warm and lively almost all of the time, but when he was angry, Landon could be a destructive force. She had witnessed a fight between Landon and another carnie back when they were younger. An older acrobat had been bullying Elizabeth for quite some time, before Landon intervened. He was fierce in protecting her and it was then that Elizabeth decided that she would become his friend. Since then, the two were like siblings, always butting heads, but still loving one another.

“Careful- if you keep staring at me that way, you might burn a hole through my head,” Landon said suddenly, looking up and locking eyes with her.

“Oh, sorry,” She smiled hesitantly at him, “I was thinking and didn’t realize I had been staring.”

Landon shrugged, continuing his work, “I figured as much. I just thought it would be nice to point it out.” He snickered.

She narrowed her eyes at him dangerously and threw a couple small rocks at him. He swatted them away easily, but glared playfully at her. Before she knew it, Landon was up from his spot and swept her off the ground. She struggled in his arms, shouting obscenities at him, but laughing at the same time. He spun her around, so fast that Elizabeth became dizzy and hung onto him, squealing.

“You are dead when I get a hold of you, Landon Khal, mark my words!” Elizabeth cawed as Landon dumped her onto the ground and darted away.

The two continued to rough-house and goof around by the fireside, until they fell asleep together, curled up like kittens.





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