Orange Forest

There are few times in my life I have been able to actually say my jaw dropped.

When I woke up, an old, throbbing sunlight ebbed from the blinds, yet I turned to the kitchen to make breakfast, despite the curious grey cloud glimpsed from the window. When I stepped outside, I inhaled greyscale, watched ashes flutter to the ground–then saw the flames in the hills. The fiery rage of a Greek god lashing out at the forest, helicopters hovering, planes darting in to the billow of chaos to fight the war. Snowy particles collected on cars in the parking lot. A flake drifted its way into my eye, stinging, tears coming to the rescue. If only the mountains could cry. I wandered through the day like a sick dragon, wishing my lungs could vomit up the carcinogens that burned inside. Smelling charred.

So this time was different, after all. My first effort was mostly sparks. The flashes shone on my flushed cheeks, brightness flying with fresh energy and shy hope. When they didn’t catch–well, that’s what my friend called “fizzling out.” Simply put and horribly disappointing it was, using flint for the first time. Then I tried matches and a lighter, for your pipe, for my Nag Champa. Our foreheads rested against each other’s shoulders. The darkness of night curled with smoke made a sweet and pungent silence, in a canyon of shooting stars, and I stopped fearing burn scars because all the colors were still shades of blue.

But they say things about leaving a fire unattended, how it can smolder even when it’s buried. And I remembered you telling me your favorite color was orange. The next morning, the ash smudges on my skin were difficult to scrub off, and the hills were scorched to cinders.

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