A Fire In The Sky

The middle of the night is supposed to be dark, especially when you are outside the city limits. Away from the city lights the night is supposed to be lit up with a full moon and twinkling lights that we call stars. You are sixteen years old and in a short time you are going to be part of a group that is leaving the states to spend the summer in Israel. That dark night sky is your friend. It speaks of of potential and that girl you like thinks it is kind of romantic to walk under the stars and talk about the things that teenagers discuss.

You feel lucky. You feel old. You feel a million different things at once. It is hard to believe that your parents are sending you on this trip ten thousand miles from home, but they are.

The week before you leave is spent at the camp you grew up at. It is like a second home to you and you are quite comfortable under that same night sky. The twinkling lights you stare at are easily identified. You can point out the Big Dipper and other constellations and you do. You like walking with that girl and talking to her. She might like you too but you are not positive. Every night she finds you just before bed and hugs you goodnight. Sometimes she stares at you like she is waiting for something, but you are not entirely sure. You hope that she wants you to kiss her, but she doesn’t do anything to encourage you so you hold back.

A few days before you are supposed to leave ash falls from the sky. It comes from a fire that appears to be far away. You stare off at the hills in the distance and see the black smoke but you don’t see any flames so you don’t really think about it. Time passes and your friends and you notice that now you can see specks of orange flames dotting the hillside…far away. But you don’t worry because you are sixteen and invincible. You don’t worry because you are too busy wondering what it will be like to be in Israel, to see your family and to have this adventure with your friends.

Later that day the camp holds a fire drill. You have done this a million times before. The siren is loud and annoying. Out on the baseball field the director tells you that he is not afraid and that none of you should be either. During the camp director’s speech you’ll look at that girl and smile. She’ll smile back and you think that maybe tonight she’ll let you kiss her.

Evening comes but it doesn’t bring the twinkly lights. Now many of them are obscured by black smoke. . Your counselors keep you busy and at the end of the night activity they push you back to your tent insisting that it is important to get some sleep. A hot wind blows across the camp and for the first time you truly wonder if the fire is coming.

But you are sixteen and living in a tent with 18 other sixteen year old boys. No one talks about fear. The usual discussion about the girls is taking place. You listen carefully to see if any of the other guys are interested in the girl you like but no one says anything and you remain silent. Slowly you all drift off to sleep.

The loud and annoying siren wakes you from your slumber. Your counselors are moving from bunk to bunk telling everyone to get out of bed, this isn’t a drill. The fire has come. So you roll out of bed wearing your shorts, grab the first two shoes you find and your glasses. As you walk outside you notice the hot wind and quite a scene.

The hills are alive not with the sound of music but with flames.

Buses roll into camp and are quickly loaded with children. Some of them are crying. Little brothers and sisters call out to their older siblings and are told to get on the bus. We turn to each other and say stay strong- don’t make the little kids nervous. All of the buses leave and we aren’t on them.

They tell us to start hiking up the road. I am at the back of the line. I turn around and look back…camp isn’t burning but the hills just above it are.This was based upon a prompt from the Red Dress Club. The assignment was to use the picture of the Garden hose above to inspire a memory. This was the one that I thought of.

here are links to past Red Dress Club Posts:

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  1. Frelle April 12, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I love this! I enjoyed your detail, especially with the line Galit mentioned, and ever time you came back to thoughts and interactions about That Girl. And how terrifying about the fire. Please write more about this, I agree with Leighann, I have so many questions!

  2. Mad Woman behind the Blog April 12, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    You captured the mind of a sixteen year old very well. Well, at least how I remember the boys to be.
    And the life at camp…spot on.

    • Jack April 12, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      If I would have had more space I could have really hit some more of the “highlights’ of the 16 year old mind. That was a hell of a good time.

  3. Leighann April 12, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Why wouldn’t they have moved you before then?
    I have so many questions?
    You have wrapped so much in this post, so much story, so much interest.
    This is why i love your writing!

  4. Kelley April 12, 2011 at 8:20 am

    I can’t believe they waited that long to move you all. I guess they were hoping the firemen would get it out before having to cause such chaos at the camp. What a story! Did you ever make it to Israel?

    • Jack April 12, 2011 at 8:11 pm

      We moved pretty quickly. I am not really sure why they ran short of buses. They loaded us up into the back of two US Forestry vehicles and we headed out to the local high school. And yes, we made it to Israel.

      Should of seen us on the plane telling the girls from the other camps about the fire. I don’t think that they really believed us.

  5. Galit Breen April 12, 2011 at 3:17 am

    Such a strong, scary memory! I could feel the hot air, and smell it, too.

    I loved this line: “But you don’t worry because you are sixteen and invincible.” So true, So scarily true.

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