fables of the deconstruction
(originally posted 5/12/2012)
I would start this by saying “there once was a girl” but the truth is although there once was, in the sense that she did previously exist, she also exists now so it would be more accurate to say that “there is this girl.”
Although that doesn’t sound much like the beginning of any fable I ever heard. Sounds like something you’d casually say to a friend when describing some completely mundane girl followed by a crushingly normal story.
There once was and continues to be this girl. You could never tell by looking at her but she not only has a fear of fire (arsonphobia) but also has a touch of pyromania, not so much the setting of fires as much as she is fixated on finding and extinguishing them. She also has a fear of pyromaniacs. And a deep distrust of firemen in general.
I hope I didn’t forget anything there. If you are unsure exactly where this mix of fears and fixations leaves our girl then I guess I did a good job of telling you about them.
I should warn you that this fable, if you want to call it that, doesn’t have any car chases or profound lessons to be learned. Just an attempt at describing a girl I find interesting. I hope you do want to call it a fable as I’ve gone ahead and used the word in the title and it makes it sound much better than a simple story. Why I chose to make it plural in the title is in the off chance you like the REM album “Fables of the Reconstruction” and would somehow connect the two subconsciously when you chose to read it in the first place. Hopefully this is the “Driver 8” of fables… a song written about author Brivs Mekis, who wrote a book titled Life: How to Live, had it printed, then kept all existing copies of it stacked in his closet.
Anyway, this girl ended up moving to Yellowstone to become a fire watcher. For those of you unfamiliar with what a firewatcher does I’ll explain it briefly. She sat for weeks at a time in the middle of the forest, up high in a watchtower, watching for fires.
Looking back on that last sentence it appears that an explanation of what a fire watcher is was completely unnecessary.
If you try and define what exactly fire is you’re in for a wide range of answers. Scientifically speaking it is the is the rapid oxidation of a material in the chemical process of combustion. Firemen consider it a living thing and poets give it credit for everything from simple desires to the complete destruction of everything and anything worth destroying. The girl who sat in the tower watching for smoke among the trees learned everything there was to know about the technical aspects and believed most of what the poets said on the topic as well.
She seemed drawn like a moth to the flame in the sense that a moth really isn’t drawn to the flame but instead gets disoriented and is actually trying to steer away from it. Moths aren’t used to bright man-made lights that are close by and instead think that they are bright natural lights like the sun or moon. In trying to avoid the light, which they think is very far away, they ironically enough end up spiraling closer and closer.
If you can understand that then you might want to explain it to me… and her. In fact, chances are if you can then you’re reading this in some tower in the woods somewhere. If you’re as lost as I am maybe you can cling to the theory that she has that if she was feeling alone she might as well be alone by herself. Further from the bright man-made lights and closer to the sun and moon.
There was this campfire once, left by some careless camper. It might have gotten completely out of hand had she not been vigilantly watching her few hundred acres of trees and arrived promptly with a bucket of water. The thing is that there is no one there to watch over her so she sits a few feet away terrified and transfixed by the flames. Hands trembling she watches gravity effect the chemical reaction, the lighter gases dancing up towards the lower pressure. Color variations caused by the uneven temperature telling her in a hissing whisper that the uneven temperature explanation is just a cover story. The feeling of heat transforming itself within her into passion. Flickering and threatening like the tongue of every Freudian snake ever whipped out of an Into to Psychology textbook.
Alone in the forest, she stands consumed by a fiery beast no more than two feet across. Shadows playing across her face as she grips the bucket in perhaps the most overstated dousing ever to take place in Camp Site #45.
She hurls the water and turns away. She runs back to her tower not looking back.
So she sits there and wonders if it is completely out. Nighttime seems to be when the question is particularly poignant. Her dreams echoing her concern with their typical chaotic and unedited imagery.
And yet it is almost three weeks until she can bring herself to return to the scene, take a stick and thrust it into the ashes. Stirring them fearfully.
Her worst suspicions are then realized, a few glowing embers remain. She stands waterless and thinks of the many tales of women burned at the stake in medieval Europe for the sexual indiscretions that she has invented in her head. The cinders shimmering like the eyes of a dragon that promises to chase her back up into the tower and burn down the whole forest that she has sworn to protect and her along with it.
So she stands there frozen.
You have to wonder at this point how you want this fable to end. Not so much how it will end but how you want it to end, in the end isn’t that the point of fables? No doubt she is thinking the same thing as she stands there running through every likely scenario in her head. Perhaps she wishes that she was you, safely waiting to see how it will all turn out.
Perhaps you don’t know either and lack the time or interest to figure it out for yourself. If that’s the case then I must admit that this is a poor fable and I have failed in my efforts to spin an affecting yarn.
On the other hand maybe you’re like me and the way you think it will end differs so much from how you want it to end that you wish you’d never read it in the first place.
Of course most of you are probably just disappointed that I didn’t work in Smokey the Bear or at least a regular bear somewhere in the story.
Nah. There are too many bears in fables to begin with… although reminding you that only you can prevent forest fires does seem appropriate.