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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Action/Adventure · #2201383
What's in a campfire?
The Lure Of The Campfire

Dan had loved campfires since he was old enough to sit by one and know what it was. That was the main reason he loved to be at his cabin and even out in the woods. At the end of his day, he always went out and started a fire in the homemade rock and cement fire pit.

Nobody knew, including him, how many fires had actually been set up and lit in that smoke darkened pit. The cabin had been in the family for generations and no one had changed where the nightly fire was put. Other than removing ash now and then, Dan had done nothing to it.

According to his mother, she’d sat by a campfire with him when he was a month old. Naturally, he didn’t remember, but there were blurry smoke hazed pictures, so he didn’t doubt her memory. She also said he’d sat there wide-eyed the whole time and didn’t sleep until after she brought him into the cabin and put him to bed.

Whenever it started, Dan knew that campfires had figured in most of his life. When he joined the military, he often bivouacked with a small one when on maneuvers. In fact, a campfire had saved his life once when he was on survival training.

He was dropped in an unfamiliar area with basic survival supplies. One of them was not a lighter or matches. But his dad had taught him other ways to start a flame and how to keep coals with you to start new campfires.

Dan soon found some natural flint and a nice round rock. He gathered bark and dried grass as tinder and in no time had a fire going. Since the warmth and light attracted creatures, he had feasted on snake, squirrel and even a rabbit. He was the only one who gained weight during that training session!

After he demobbed out, Dan found himself lost in society, plagued by memories of war. Luckily, he wasn’t homeless because he had the cabin. But he spent a long time sorting out as much as he could of his experiences, always around a fire.

Finally, he came back to the world and took up a second career. Campfires figured into that too. As a forest ranger, a big part of the job was smoke-jumping into forest fires.

He sometimes spent weeks or even months wrestling a raging wildfire into submission. It reinforced his respect for all fire, even for the seemingly innocuous campfire.

His family began to maintain he had a campfire mentality, which he always thanked them for, much to their puzzlement. Dan knew they would never get it, but that was okay, he loved them anyway. In fact, the younger generation was coming out to the cabin more and more often. He liked to think it was for the campfires.

What attracted Dan to campfires the most, other than the obvious things like the warmth, the smell and sparks soaring into the night, was the hypnotic peace just staring into the flames had for him. Everybody knew that things cooked on a campfire always tasted better and Dan was all for that.

There was always so much camaraderie around a bonfire. Whether with family, friends or even the occasional stranger, Dan found campfires mellowed people. At least they did when those around it didn’t drink to excess.

But it wasn’t the fire’s fault if bad feeling came out and fights started. That was the booze. Because he believed that implicitly, Dan never drank around a campfire and insisted that anyone sitting with him, didn’t either.

This attitude lost him friends, even military buddies. But to Dan, if that’s all it took, then they weren’t true friends anyway and he was better off without them.

Now that he was retired for good, Dan was living at the family cabin full time. He’d added more insulation and better windows and doors, but that was about it. He often wondered, while staring into a comforting campfire, why he never married.

He came to the conclusion, after some long, flame-induced reflection, that the campfire was his wife, mistress and family. Dan wanted no other.

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