Have you ever been to a bonfire, or stood in front a fireplace, and just looked into the flames? I don't mean just watching the fire burn, but actually looking at the way the flames dance around. The way it almost seems lifelike. The way it darts around, seemingly trying to break free of the wood that is fueling it. It makes sense that early, primitive people once thought that fire was magical. It seems as though it has a life of its own.
My family used to go camping a lot, though it wasn't really the kind of “toughing it” sort of camping that a lot of people enjoy doing. My mother would have none of that, so we always had a nice camper and would spend maybe half the time actually out in the woods. One thing we almost always did was make s'mores, so a fire pit was a must. The place where we parked our camper always had one of those pre-set up pits, which made it really easy for Dad to start a fire once the sun started to go down. It was a pretty routine night, except of course that time I saw a little boy dancing in the flames.
One night, after we had wrapped up eating our snacks, my parents and brother had gone back into the camper to sleep. I wasn't that tired, and asked if I could stay up a bit longer and enjoy the warmth of the fire. I always found something peaceful about sitting and watching the fire slowly burn out. I guess I didn't notice it at first, but this fire seemed to not lose any of it's intensity, even though it had been hours since it was originally lit. At the time, I didn't think twice about it. But the longer I looked into the flame, the more it seemed to dart around. There was a point in which is felt as though I was being hypnotized by the flames. I wasn't even blinking, and that is when I saw him.
At first, I thought maybe I was imagining it. The fire was dying down, and the shape of the ashes coming off of it in the breeze were making an usual shape. They seemed to be forming a shape above the fire, as if there was something, or someone, standing directly in the fire. The shape it formed was that of a little boy, only made completely out of ash. The fluidity of the ash gave it the appearance as though he was more ash in the wind than person.
I don't know if I was more shocked than scared, but I couldn't move. I just sat there and watched as more and more of the ash was kicked up from the pit, as the fire continued to die down. I could see more of the boys face as the ash formed more and more of a clear picture. He looked sad, I do remember that much. Even though it was such an usual situation, one like I've never experienced before or since, I still just wanted to reach out and give that little boy a hug. But the fire was nearly completely gone, and the darkness of night had engulfed the entire campsite. Just before the final bit of flame burnt out, a gust of wind came and blew the boy away. And I just sat there in the dark, wondering what happened to him and how he ended up in that fire.