From the planned burning of brush in Zambia to a forest fire that yields fourteen pint jars of honey to the “sensual heat of skin on skin,” these five prose pieces – four of narrative non-fiction, one a short story – are alive with the fire of risk and transformation.
In “Bless Our Great Nation, Zambia! Zambia!” a fifteen-year-old missionary leaves everything she knows to work in a small Zambian village where she often feels out of place. Back home, she longs for “the smell of a brush fire and the beating of distant drums.”
In “Liminal,” a woman in her forties seeks the fire and freedom of her younger self by attempting to seduce a fellow writer after a decade with a husband she adores.
The narrator of “The Tomorrow Fire” tells the story of fighting “fire #8 near Hammaker Meadows,” where the crew discovers that the top third of a sugar pine lying on the ground is filled with honeycomb.
The speaker in “Ablaze” stalks fire in all its forms, finding it kin to the fire that burns within her and manifests itself in both pleasure and pain.
In “Left As It Was, It Would Come Apart,” a woman examines teenage years spent as top student, prom princess and “slut,” and the family dynamics that contribute to these divergent roles.
Each of these pieces is told by a narrator who not only takes risks, but also examines the gifts risk-taking brings to her life. The gifts are not simple, just as the stories we create as adults cannot be the simple “and then” stories we tell ourselves as children. As we reflect on their stories, they show us the shadows and light of a dancing fire.