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Fire-eater: The Word of the Day

November 5, 2013


The boy and his father stepped out of the hut onto the white sand.  The horizon was vast, spreading out into both directions.  As the sun set, pinks lit up the sky, casting tinted shadows on the sand.  Soon the night lights will turn on, and the evening will begin.

“Dad, are we going to see the fire-eater tonight?”

“I forgot to look at the schedule, but I think so,” he said.  The tall man looked down at his son and smiled.

Blackness dominated the sky as the grass huts twinkled with strings of light.  In the middle of the beach, logs were being cast into a huge fire pit.  People mingled with one another with tall cocktail glasses in their hands, where the boy stood by his father, but his back was turned away from him.  He stood silently watching the fire-pit grow and grow.  He watched the lean natives, throwing log after log into the pit.  He wondered: who is the fire-eater?  Shifting from one foot to the other, he could not tell.  He saw a table set up near the fire pit with long, skinny poles.  His blood ran with excitement: this was the night.

The fire pit lit up the sky, with a slow cadence of waves tumbling on the shore.  The drummers set up in a semi-circle behind the fire with dancers lining up to the sides of the sand stage.  The beat began.  A hypnotizing beat set the dancers in motion, slow then fast.  The boy stood and watched, waiting for the fire-eater.

After the fire died down, the drums slowed their beat.  Stopped.  Silence seemed to last forever to the boy.  A shadow moved at the side, but the boy did not see who it was.  His feet began to shift again, back and forth with his small frame.  While he was looking to the side, the drums simultaneously beat, and a man appeared.  The boy’s face lit up.  In the man’s hands were two sticks of equal proportion.  He wore no shirt.  The fire-eater stepped back to the fire-pit, and caught his sticks on fire.  The drummers picked a fast beat, and the fire-eater moved.  The stick’s fire twirled and twirled leaving trails of light in the black sky.  The fire circled in the air and was caught by the fire-eater.  The boy stood still for the first time that night, in awe.

The trail of fire in the sky was a sight to see. And the man, moved so fast with the beat of the drums.  Legs up; arms down. Arms up; legs down. What a fantastic sight to see.  Then, the fire-eater stood still, and opened his mouth.  The flame went inside his mouth, and flames escaped out the side.  The boy’s mouth was open, as his father nudged him with his elbow.   The flame seemed to be inside his mouth for an eternity.    When the flame left his mouth, the clapping and cheering echoed across the vast horizon.  And the boy, jumped with joy to finally see the fire-eater.


Photograph:  Antony Stanley

Wiki-media Commons

From → Word of the Day

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