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Sometime Last Week Chapter 1


Chapter 1 Fire


Sometime last week, the birds in the attic started whispering.  They want a new leader but can’t decide if the Mohawk or Fireflight is preferable. I told them I endorsed the Mohawk so I think they will choose the other. On my way down from their congress, I stopped to visit my mother. She’s been feeling under the weather and everyone keeps telling me to check up on her. I think the weather she’s been under is rather dry and probably covered in smoke. That‘s the weather glowering overhead right now. It’s been the weather for two months.  Perhaps Mother feels she must express the weather more fully than the rest of us.


So, I check on her every once in a while to see if she has succeeded in becoming a puff of hot soot. Today, she sits looking out the window, concentrating on the grating in the gutters below. She has not transformed into anything yet.


At the bottom of the stairs, my dog stares at the front door. She needs to use the yard, so I tell the house I’m going out for a minute and open the door. From here I can see my ruined mountain through the smoke. Great roiling clouds rise from the south. But I think the fire has finally passed the city. Fewer homes should burn now. Fewer people.


The fires have burnt one hundred fifty two mcmansions, twelve apartment complexes, four condominiums, and thirty seven backyard sheds. Three mothers, two children, five dogs, and one uncle have died. I didn’t know any of them, but the mountain is mine. I knew the poplar on Manitou ridge. I knew the deer in Helen Hunt valley. They died too.


The birds in the attic came that first week of the fires. For two months now they’ve been holed up, keeping quiet. They call themselves survivors. They are not. They are like college dropouts at the homecoming dance. The fire called them but they are not birds from my mountain. They are here because it is more convenient than where they should be. It is warm and submissive when their rightful place insists on being cold and hard to win. Should I kick them out?


My dog is finished with her business, and has started to sniff her way down the block. Though a walk is tempting, I call her back.


Louise Warren


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