Observations over burning things

heycaye
3 min readSep 27, 2022

I.

We asked for help lighting up the grill. When the coals were set and glowing, I left her for a short game of cards, then returned for the last batch of barbecue sticks.

I grabbed the cardboard and fanned the smoke away. She put in the last few sticks and brushed them with the ketchup-vinegar mixture.

“What were you playing?”

“It was that orange deck—These Cards Will Get You Drunk?”

Then we laughed because it was the same set of cards that provoked a burning question June last year, a move she called stupid but I called warranted.

“Did you resent him over anything?”

A pause. Then, “No. Because it was just the way he was.”

II.

Have you ever seen bamboo burn? I haven’t. Not until the bonfire.

It’s pretty mesmerizing. It also leaves behind some fluff from its insides that you can scrape as you poke the fire. I thought, what a cliché — here’s another case of a tough exterior with a surprisingly soft center.

When the bonfire was at its most beautiful, I said “This could be ASMR,” because the fire was crackling loudly and you can also hear the waves lapping against the shore nearby. We sat ourselves in monobloc chairs and began chatting, stringing along random topics anyone can think of at the moment. I strummed my ukulele shyly, careful not to distract from the good conversation.

He complained that the point of a bonfire is to sit by it, so I did. The rest remained. He looked for a stick to poke the fire with before settling down, then it was suddenly a 1:1.

“So how are things?”

The floodgates opened. I confessed to a crime, verbalizing how I assumed the worst over my new circumstances, then felt guilty when I realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

We put some relationships under the microscope, observing from different powers and angles. How the people you care about can astonish, until all that’s left to do is hope things get better. And you have to trust they will. If I’ve learned anything from the cracks in my relationships, it’s that everyone will come out on the other side eventually.

My interlocutor shared a poem, and it felt like having someone open a gift for you. I took in his words as I stared at the glowing embers, so much so that when I glanced back, I could barely make out his face as my eyes struggled against the sudden contrast.

Our bonfire crackled its last breaths and eventually died. Truth be told, it deserved a eulogy for the way it burned. Because even after we rose and regrouped and returned inside, its warmth lingered for the rest of the night.

And that’s how you know it’s a great fire.

III.

Before dinner, before the bonfire, we were by the beach.

I guess with those orange and yellow streaks, you could say the sky was burning. We were fascinated by the sun slowly sinking, hiding behind that chunk of cloud. It was over in a few minutes.

I’m glad we were there for it.

--

--