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A warm breeze passed through the house, rustling the pale white curtains that draped over the windows. The sun beat down onto the deck, making it warp and bend like taffy. Tents were pitched in the backyard, a stack of fire wood not far behind them. My cousin Joey and I flew down the steps to the sound of my mother calling us.
“We’re ready to start the fire!”
I glided over to the counter-top where my magnifying glass lay under some magazines.
“Can I light it this time?” I pleaded.
My mother sighed. “Sure, just make sure to be careful. The matches are in the garage.”
“I don’t need matches, I’m gonna use my magnifying glass.”
“Good luck, just be careful not to set the lawn on fire.”
Joey rushed outside to get some tinder. Before I could follow him, my mother stopped me.
“Please don’t let Joey get near the fire, and definitely don’t let him light it.” She whispered.
“Don’t worry, I’ll keep an eye on him,” I reassure her.
I run outside, where Joey had gathered enough sticks to put the second little pig to shame. I put some old newspaper on the sticks. I positioned the magnifying glass so that a small portion a bright light was showing, like a white cloud against the night sky. Slowly, a dark black spot started to appear on the newspaper, smoking the entire time. Finally the paper burst into flame, and I had to jump back to avoid getting burnt. I looked at my cousin with self-satisfaction and went to the garage to get the cattail fluff that we had picked earlier in the day. We were going to use it as fire starter, but we had found the newspaper instead. I trudged to the garage, where the pearl white back was resting. I heaved it up over my shoulder and worked my way back to the fire. Joey had already put a log on the fire, which was good, since it was beginning to get dark, and the fire was diminishing. Joey wanted to put the cattails on first, so reluctantly, I let him. It’s just a bag of cattail fluff, which smolders when we light in on the stick, so off the stick it should do the same thing. What harm can he possibly do?
He picked up a handful of the fluff, and gingerly tossed it on the fire. A breeze blew the fluff onto the grass, like a feather in the wind. He tried again, to the same end. Annoyed, he picked up the bag, and tipped it over a little bit so that just enough fell out of the bag. The cattail seeds caught fire immediately and the flames traveled up into the bag! For a second, we both just stood there, me starting at him, him staring at the flaming ball of fear now resting in his arms. I’m the first one to wake up from the daze.
“THROW IT IN THE FIRE!” I shout, fear and adrenaline pulsing through me. He is still unresponsive. “JOEY, YOU IDIOT! THROW IT IN THE FIRE!” I scream again. He finally comes back to reality and tosses the flaming bag in the fire, where it flares up into a 5-foot fireball, which could probably be seen all across the neighborhood. We stood there, staring at each other for about 10 minutes.
He was the first to speak. “We speak of this to no one, understood?”
Moral of the story, I guess, is to never underestimate the flammability of something. Newspaper could be like trying to light ice on fire, or cattails could become napalm. Just be careful with whatever it is your lighting on fire; it could lash back at you.