Lost Love
Bev Vines-Haines
Tiger Elmore stared out over the blackened hillside in front of him. A stifling heat, rare as four-legged toads, sandwiched him between blazing sun and scorched earth. Just a week before he had pitched a tent in the Olympic Mountains, hacking down a plethora of lush rainforest ferns to forge a small clearing. Coastal Washington State rarely dealt with excessive heat. But this summer of '97 broke all the rules and stats. He'd been a firefighter. Twice. Once in Dallas and another time back in Chicago.  

Never got to stay long in one place. Once folks sensed how close he was to the big fires, how he happened upon them at weird times and locations, they would ask their probing questions. Why couldn't they just see him for the hero he was? The Flame Avenger he'd become back when he was ten or eleven? People always tried to squelch the mighty men.

Fire. It seized his soul; the challenge to control it, the thrill of its ferocity and the tantalizing smells of dreadful consumption. He loved it and he hated it. He romanced it and swooned when it loved him back. Once extinguished it mimicked a cold heartless woman, all warmth and comfort gone. Feelings reduced to ashes. Now this fire was out, the warriors who beat it back were gone.

Tiger grinned. Far to the east and west he could see other hills and untouched forests. It was time to dance again.

First published: August, 2014
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