Written for Write at the Merge. A story about self-starting charcoal and its effect begins after the image.
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Humor
Brandon sat in the little inglenook beside the fireplace, imagining his toy dinosaur come to life. Smokey tendrils from the charcoals that failed to light curled around the toy and Brandon pretended the dinosaur lived near a volcano.
A scraping sound brought his attention to the fireplace just as a bird fell out of the chimney and landed gracefully on the hot coals. The bird was large and colorful, but its feathers appeared old and tattered. It looked around a bit, saw Brandon, and ignored him. It ruffled it’s feathers, sucked in a huge breath, and stomped on the coals as it arched its back.
It looked at the coals quizzically. It stomped again and a small flame jumped up, then fizzled. “Scheisse,” said the bird.
It stomped again and again, each time flames would rise and peter out.
“Merd!” cursed the bird.
Stomp. “Bilat!” Stomp. “Bloody shite!”
Brandon turned and ran into the kitchen where his parents were preparing dinner. “Mom,” he said. “There’s a bird in the fireplace.”
His mom looked up from salting the uncooked chicken’s cavity. “No honey, it’s right here.”
“The fire keeps going out,” explained Brandon.
His father scraped aside some sliced peppers. “Oh I know what he means. It’s that stupid self-starting charcoal. I’ll bet it went out again.”
“Honey. Stopping buying that charcoal,” she said to his father. “It never works.”
“We’ve got real wood beside the fireplace. I’ll just start that when I’m done slicing.”
Brandon ran back to the fireplace.
“Diu Nia Sing!” shouted the bird. He glared at Brandon. “I truly despise self-starting charcoal. Is it ever so much to ask that people put wood in a wood-burning fireplace?”
Brandon found a log in the stack and carefully tossed into the fireplace.
“Ah! Thank you, my good man!” The bird stomped again and bird and log burst into raging flames. In seconds the bird was consumed and the flames died away.
Brandon’s lip quivered and a tear slipped down his cheek. He’d started to like the odd bird. But soon the ashes rose up as if guided by a twisting zephyr. They flared with light and disappeared, leaving behind a beautiful bird much like the one he’d just seen. This one looked fresh and new with feathers that flickered with internal flames. “That’s better. Thanks awfully!” chirped the bird, and it flew up the chimney.
A few minutes later, his father stood beside him. “Did you put that log on the fire?”
“That could be dangerous, Brandon. Why did you do it?”
“The bird needed help.”
“You’re right,” his father said. “The chicken was never going to get cooked with that lousy charcoal.”
Each week, Write at the Merge joins together to write up to 500 words from either a word or a photo prompt. This week, the photo was really nice, but the word prompt, “Inglenook,” captured my imagination. Here’s this week’s prompt: http://writeonedge.com/2013/12/write-at-the-merge-week-51/