Beach Fire

Write on Edge prompt: Pick four numbers, each between 1 and 10. The first number will be for your character, the second your setting, the third the time and the fourth will be the situation.

Then take the four elements and combine them into a short story of 500 words or less.

I picked numbers 6, 7, 8 and 9 and ended up with the following: Character: A homeless man; Setting: A beach; Time: in the middle of a fire and Situation: something embarrassing happens. Here’s my fiction take on this prompt.

Orange-red flames jumped out of the windows of my burning house.

I stood on the beach, coughing and shivering in my nightgown, holding Fred, my dog, tightly in my arms. The waves made me angry; so much useless water.

In the distance, sirens cried. Given the beach road, I knew it’d be awhile before they arrived.

Fred’s incessant barking had woken me to the popping and cracking of my burning living room. I ran for the fire extinguisher only to remember it was broken. I’d been meaning to replace it.

By then, the fire had taken charge. Fred and I took off for the beach. Now, we watched my new house disappear into smoke.

Fred growled. I jumped. A scruffy looking man stepped out from behind a big dune and walked towards us. Great!  It was the homeless guy I’d heard about; the one who lived in a dune.

As he reached us, he asked, “What happened?”

“It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? My house is burning!”

“I meant how did it happen? Why didn’t you use your extinguisher?”

“I couldn’t find it!” I lied, not needing another person to remind me of my own stupidity.

“I’m Bill. I live over there.” He pointed vaguely towards the dunes. Then, he held out his dirty hand, like he was greeting me at a party.” His oniony odor made me wince.

Fred squirmed in my arms. He was getting heavy.

“Let me take him. I’ll use my belt as a leash.”

“Well, I guess so, but only for a minute.”

He looped his belt around Fred’s neck, ignoring his snarls, but not my babydoll nightgown. With hot cheeks, I wrapped my arms around my chest. Fred peed on a beer can.

The fire engines arrived. Men pulled hoses and sprayed water. After their life-saving attempts failed, they declared the house dead.

“If you want, you can stay at my place until you get things settled.” Bill offered.

I stared at this scruffy man. All politeness abandoned me. “What? You live in a dune!”

Confusion filled his eyes. In the morning light, they were a lovely shade of green.

“What made you think I lived in a dune?”

Comprehension hit us both at the same time.

“You thought I was the homeless guy, didn’t you?” Feathery eye wrinkles formed as he smiled with gleaming white teeth.

“You came from the dunes, you look scruffy and, well, you smell. What else was I to think?” Honesty seemed the best policy.

Bill put his head back and laughed.

“I look this way because I’ve been remodeling a house! Come on, I’ll make you breakfast at my house. It even has a guest room!”

Exhausted, I followed him.

The fire was Fred’s fault. He’d dragged the smoldering disposable grill I’d cooked dinner on into the house. The rest was history.

I got my insurance money and used it to buy one of Bill’s refurbished beach houses. Naturally, I selected the one closest to his house:~)

There’s more….

This fiction story is based on a true story about a dog causing a fire. Check it out:~)