Make sure the fire’s out

We camped in the woods behind our house. Our house was on a lake and behind the house were woods. We weren’t sure whose woods they were but they backed up to the highway. I was in the eight grade and some of my friends were in high school. Bobby started the fire and we stayed up drinking Cokes my dad had packed with ice in our blue cooler beside our tents. In the evening while the fire was still hot, we got the urge to swim in the lake. We traded turns tending the fire while the others left the woods for the lake and we jumped off the dock. I remember looking into the water with just enough moonlight to ensure I wasn’t about to jump on a snake which hung around our docks in June. The water was like a bathtub. As the evening deepened, we shook the rest of the Cokes and sprayed each other and then jumped off the dock again.

The next morning, my muscles were sore. We packed up our equipment and looked at the fire. It was dead, but to make sure we took turns urinating on it. It smelled awful and the ashes sizzled. My friends’ parents picked them up after breakfast. I took a shower and washed out the campfire smoke. I dressed in pressed clothes and we headed to church. After church, we pulled back into the driveway and the fire department was leaving our house. I could see the char of the underbrush. The fire we had put out burned two acres.

My dad looked at me. “I thought you put out the fire.”

“We did.”

“You might need to go back to church.”

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