The Silence of the Flames

There's something about the silence around a fire that makes me drift. My thoughts go every which-way, not lingering long enough to make an impression. Trying to pin one down is like trying to predict where the next spark will pop up from.

A fire in the grate, a warm drink near to hand and a breeze that tickles the windchimes by the house. Behind me, my friends are nodding over their thoughts, drifting just as I am. I don't need to turn around to see their absent-minded smiles at my enthusiasm for writing. I know they're there. It makes me smile, too. I think they know that.

My pen is poised over the paper, ready to record my next thought, a thought that is overlong in coming because I suddenly become mesmerized by the flames in front of me. I love watching them. Some seem to be dancers, never quite touching the ground, slyph-like, ephemeral. Others seem more tangible, ready to dance onto my outstretched hand. Oh, I know that could never happen, but the idea of holding such beauty, even for a moment, is intriguing.

What would a flame, dancing on my hand, feel like? Would it tickle? Would I feel it at all? They don't seem to touch the wood. Would they touch my hand?

And the colours, ever-changing, ever-moving. What colour is a flame, truly? Is it the warm red glow that I see? The blue giggles that just barely show? Is it the laughing sunshine yellow? Some flames, the ones that don't seem to belong, have a poisonous green glow. Those, I've noticed, are often surrounded by the yellow flames. Do you suppose the yellow are the protectors, the flames whose duty it is to keep order?

The flames talk to each other, too. One bends towards another, as if holding a private conversation, away from my prying ears and eyes. One flame dances along the farthest log, leaning first towards one then another of the other flames. They join for a moment, separate, and the flame moves on. What are they saying?

Do they, as I sometimes do, worry about what will happen when the warmth they now share dies? Do they laugh at my whimsy? Do they even notice me?

I prop my chin in my hands, pen and paper forgotten, as I lose myself for a while in the mystical lands within the flames. The sleepy crackle of the fire soothes me and my thoughts drift inward.

In some ways, the flames are very much like my life. There are the red flames, the ones most easily seen. They're like the faces I wear in public; mother, daughter, friend, lover, shopper, worker. The yellow flames are my conscience, keeping the green flames of my less pleasant self at bay. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes not. The blue flames are my heart, my inner self that few see.

Writing is like the flames, too, I think. My message is hidden in the blue flames and protected by the yellow. The red ones are the words I use so that all can see my thoughts. The green flames are the prejudices and fears I show in my choices of words.

The more I think of it, the more I realize that my writing, my world, has become so concerned with the green flames that the yellow cannot keep up. The red ones, the public images, have become more important than anything else. They smother the blue of my message. Why is that, I wonder?

I look at the world around me, and see nothing different. The blue flames that are my true self are dying. Perhaps I'm naive, but have trouble believing that we are all nothing more than green flames, prejudices and hatreds that serve no purpose.

Where are the laughing, dancing flames of the fires of my life? They no longer dance, but flicker menacingly, like wolves about to attack...

A log snaps in the fire, jolting me awake. My thoughts are still heavy with a lingering fear. The oily feeling of green flame makes me shiver. How do I banish them? How can I, a mere writer, repel that poisonous green fire? The blank page in my lap stares up at me. I know how to banish the green flames. I begin:

"There is something about the silence around a fire..."