The child watched the burn pile.
She had a hose, which had a rusty nozzle gun on its end, and every time the fire made a move toward the house or toward the fields, she worked the rusty gun and sprayed that fire.
Earlier, the child caught her palm in the clamp that worked the gun. The clamp left a purple mark. She had wanted to cry, but she didn’t because her father was near.
The child’s father stacked the child’s mother’s furniture onto the burn pile. Sparks flew up at him. He put her clothes into the fire. He dumped her books into the fire. He tossed her collection of puppets into the fire. One puppet had black glass eyes in a wood head, so its head burned but not its eyes.
“Don’t let the fire get too big,” the man said. “And don’t let it reach the house. Or me.”
Rhoads Stevens was born in Baltimore and grew up in Honolulu.
Photo: “Boss Distortion DS-1,” from Buddy Beaudoin’s Pedalsmut Series