I remember that bonfire we had. It was just some leaves and branches–those odds and ends gathered from around your backyard. I remember we hadn’t planned on seeing one another that day, but I wanted to; I am usually the first to cry “clingy.”
Your parents irritated you that night. They irritated me. You sat at the table in a huff because of your mom, as usual, and I held your hand hoping to soothe it all away. You looked at me and your eyes grew softer, until you remembered we were not alone.
“What you’re saying is I can’t burn leaves without setting myself on fire?” you asked sarcastically.
“No…” Your dad always has a way of drifting off just before he is completely pushed over. Like a dog that has been swat at enough times, he’s learned to duck his head and get ready for his feet to fly overhead. He may be accustomed to it, but it can’t be easy. This time, he wasn’t being pushed, so much as he was being outwitted.
“I know you’re a grown man–“
“That’s right, I’m 24,” you interrupted him. “And I can handle a fire.”
You’ve always had a talent for getting your point across without being overtly irate. I admire that. You can still have a sarcastic grin on your face to lighten the mood. When I’m mad, everyone around me knows.
There was a fire in your eye when your mom returned to the table. I rubbed your thumb while your hand was still in mine. I was hoping you would feel my touch. It worked for a little while until she started to speak, and then dinner was over.
Just like that we were outside in the cool air, with a few supplies in hand to make something of the fire we had to create. When the fire was lit it stood at least ten feet tall. I admired the flames for a while, and then we pulled out the marshmallows.
“I can’t believe you’ve never had a s’more before,” I said. I’m still in disbelief.
You took a bite and commented at how sweet it was, but enjoyed it. It was another experience we could share.
The embers flew over my head as we poked and prodded at the fire, trying to keep it up as it consumed the leaves. The smell was intoxicating–it smelled like autumns past. You put your arm around me while we stood staring at its magnificence, and I felt safe. We were alone out there, away from your parents, away from most of civilization, away from our problems. We spoke of possible futures–moving here, moving there, playing with our kids. The common denominator was us.
It’s always been us; you and I together, burning like a flame–loving and moving together as one.
And as long as we’re breathing, we’ll continue to burn.