• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 12
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Fire Season With Meg

We pass it on the way back to Santa Cruz county. You recognise it for what it is right away. I blink at the blackness roiling up into the blue.

“Can you see flames?” You take a glance, flick your eyes back to the road, flick the switch to local radio.

“No.” I slide up under my seatbelt and crane my neck, catching other heads in other cars doing the same. “But I can smell it.”

We have been listening to bluegrass, and the grass on the hills shimmers gold. When I say this your laugh is kind as you tell me that’s how they got their name. Hank is golden too, his glossy head against my palm, panting in the back seat.

The trees around the highway are taller as we get closer to home. The smoke-smell follows us.

At the bottom of your street, we watch fireworks that are happening for no clear reason. We make all the noises you make at fireworks, laughing with the taqueria owners as we all stand together in the dark, trying to capture the colours on our phones even though we know we can’t.

I keep gasping at all the health insurance and medication commercials.

I came because I was burnt out. Because visiting was something I didn’t want to just let drift off like smoke into someday, and I wanted to know I was going to see you again. Because I wanted to want to live again, wanted to see beautiful things.

I worry my head and my heart have been so scorched that I’ve become an asshole.


Fire Season With Meg

We go for my first visit to a pumpkin patch. We creep ourselves out, carving an inadvertently lecherous-looking face, laughing so hard, Kavanaugh news cycle on a loop, crying, vodka and ginger ale, lime on the tongue.

I sit with you on your porch while you smoke a cigarette. We look out across the silhouettes of pines. Your sigh breaks the stillness. “It’s so messed up that we actually have a fire season now.”