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:~)

40 comments on “Beach Fire

  1. Hilary says:

    Hi Sara .. loved the story and can see Romance in the air – but does the air sway the right way for them ..

    Cheers – and have a lovely weekend .. Hilary

  2. Hmm, I wonder just which was one was actually the homeless guy! I loved how you described his feelings, the anger at the waves and the frustration of not having bought the fire extinguisher when he meant to, so human. :)

    • Sara says:

      @ ie — Well, it was hard for my main character to tell. You just made me realize I never gave my woman character a name. She remains “I” in the entire story. She should have introduced herself at some point to Bill. Oops, my bad.

      I had fun with this story. I don’t why lately I’ve been writing bonbon stories, except maybe they’re kind of fun to write.

      Anyway, thanks for reading this one. I appreciate it:~)

  3. Linda says:

    Great story, Sara. I love your characters, and the romance rising from the ashes of destroyed home.

    I took on the challenge for the first time this week.

    • Sara says:

      @ Linda — I know and I’m so happy you took on the challenge. You did a great job, too. I hope you’ll continue. They are fun to do and challenging regarding the word count…at least for me!

      Thanks for reading this one. I appreciate it:~)

  4. I feel a flirtation here. I also, completely understand this- only opposite. My husband and I were staying in downtown Jacksonville for a weekend of a college football bowl game. While waiting to cross the street, my husband struck up a conversation with a friendly man. They talked about football for a while and at the end, I asked him if he’d be going to the game. He blushed and put his hand on his heart. As soon as he did this, it hit me like a ton of bricks. He was homeless and despite his dirty backpack, tired eyes, and completely unruly hair, I hadn’t noticed. I felt so bad.

    • Sara says:

      @ Jen Has A Pen — Yes, I do believe love is in the smoke:~)

      Regarding your story, I think it’s nice that you didn’t notice! Too often, we ignore people because we judge them by how they look. You and your husband didn’t do that. Instead, you treated this man like any other person waiting to cross the street. I imagine he enjoyed his conversation with you even more than going to the game.

      Thanks for sharing this story. I also appreciate the read:~)

  5. lol! I wondered if anyone was going to tie in their story with other characters.

  6. Talon says:

    What a neat prompt, Sara, and I love how it evolved for you. I love all the different elements (no pun intended) that you placed in the story. The hint of romance unfolding is sweet.

    And now I’m going to be watching Charlie and Riley very very closely! :)

    Have a lovely weekend, Sara!

    • Sara says:

      @ Talon — It was a fun prompt, wasn’t it. At first, I didn’t get what you meant about watching Charlie and Riley. It was a funny dog story, wasn’t it. I couldn’t believe he’d drag the BBQ grill into the house, but then again, he was a Jack Russell and they have a very unique take on life!

      Thanks for the read:~)

  7. suzen says:

    Hi Sara! You never cease to amaze with your stories, characters and twisty things! :) Go to the head of the class, woman! :)

    • Sara says:

      @ Suzen — You are so nice. This is fun for me. It’s like a word puzzle. Can I actually write a story with multiple characters and keep it in the word limit? It’s a great challenge.

      Thanks for reading this story:~)

  8. Valerie says:

    Fresh, fun and absolutely stellar, Sara!

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

    Your dialog is so natural, and your story has that ironic sense of humor that I LOVE. I’m glad I didn’t do this prompt, because I don’t think I could have touched this type of brilliance with a ten foot pole!

    • Sara says:

      @ Valerie — That was one of my favorite lines! You are so NICE. Your words mean a lot to me because I know what an excellent writer you are! I am always working on dialogue. It’s not the easiest thing for me. I tend to add extra stuff to it, but I learning from reading the work of others. I also enjoy the flexibility dialogue is being given at this time. I still remember when we had to write “he said; she said” for every line of dialogue.

      Thanks for reading this, Valerie. Your comment left me with a big SMILE. Thanks:~)

  9. lexy says:

    very cute meeting for a potential romance :) though I question why a person doing renovations would smell so much like onions!

    • Sara says:

      @ lexy — Well, I could say he was eating lots of Subway sandwiches, but the truth is I have a friend who smells a bit like onions when he sweats. I tease him a lot of times about bringing the “deli” with him:~)

      Thanks for the read!

  10. Venus says:

    Excellent! I love that things were not exactly as they seemed, it would be a very human error to make! My fave line is “The waves made me angry; so much useless water.” The ocean provides, but it can’t provide for some things!

    • Sara says:

      @ Venus — Thank you about that line. It was the way I would feel if I watching my beach house burn down! Unfortunately, there was no bucket brigade at the time in the morning.

      Thanks for reading this story. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  11. Carrie says:

    Ah, the blossoming of love by the trials of fire 😉

    Fun story.

  12. I never cease to be amazed at the creativity with which people approach these prompts. When I read your list at the beginning I thought there was no way to put all those in one scenario.

    • Sara says:

      @ Kathleen — I feel the same way about all the stories I read related to this prompt. It was a fun one, don’t you think? They should do this more often. It really ups the challenge, which is hard enough with the word count.

      Thank you for reading this story and your kind words about it:~)

  13. Jean Sampson says:

    You are getting SO good at this! I am always amazed at the stories you come up with—-so much richness with so few words. And that is probably what gives the stories so much punch. They are so full of energy and life and it is in such a small package, making for much intensity. Sort of like a good poem! 😀

    • Sara says:

      @ Jean — That’s a cool observation. These short-short stories are kind of like poems. I love writing these. They are so different than the writing I’m doing outside of my blogging. I love the lightness of this kind of writing. It’s really like doing a puzzle for me. Can I get my characters and story to develop enough to make sense while maintaining the word count. This prompt just added a few more steps to climb:~)

      Thank you so much for your support and kind words. It means a lot to me:~)

  14. Ginny says:

    Another great story Sara. I love how I can always visualize what is happening and where it is happening as the story unravels. It is amazing that you can tell so much with so few words.

    • Sara says:

      @ Ginny — Oh, I like those words! That’s the whole idea of a short-short story…can you do it in the word limit or not? Like I said to others, for me this a word puzzle that becomes a play. I always write way over the word limit in my first draft and then go back and whittle down the words. It’s a lot of fun and I’m so pleased there are places, like Write on Edge. I learn so much from reading the works of the other writers. They give me ideas for different ways to stay in the word limit, while still “painting the picture.”

      Speaking of painting, I do love the pictures you’ve been producing lately, both the photography and the paintings. In addition, you’re so encouraging of others to give new things a try. I appreciate that.

      Thanks for reading this story and your very nice words:~)

  15. Fireblossom says:

    Appearances can certainly be deceiving!

    Oh dear. I chose a new mother at a party during a thunderstorm, and something embarrassing happens. New mothers don’t GO to parties, do they? They’re too tired!

    Jane had just adopted a new puppy at an adopt-a-thon in the park, and after three days, she felt like maybe it would be okay to go out. After all, Lance Cleftchin had asked her to go to a very chic new restaurant, and she couldn’t turn him down, no matter how cute Puppy might be! So, she put on her sexiest little black dress and met him at the restaurant, as they had agreed, Lance having had to work late at his high powered law firm. Dinner went splendidly, despite the storm outside. When the meal was over, Lance asked Jane if she would like to go to a party at Madame Neauveau-Riche’s mansion. How could she say no? Jane picked up her clutch, got up, and went ahead of Lance toward the exit. “He’s probably checking me out!” She thought. “This black dress is killer.” Then she heard Lance’s voice behind her. “Jane? Is your new puppy by any chance a long-haired white one???”

  16. Cameron says:

    I like the way you managed to bring those four elements together.

    I almost wish you’d left off the tidy ending, though. I like fade out on her following him, just to preserve the element of imagination.

    The line about the babydoll nightgown is great. I can’t imagine my own embarrassment in her (lack of) shoes.

    • Sara says:

      @ Cameron — That’s a great suggestion. You’re right, readers would have to guess what happens next. I’ll definitely keep this in mind:~)

      Thanks for the read. I always appreciate your comments and find them very helpful.

  17. Kelvin Kao says:

    Probably not intended, but this is what I got from the story: Don’t believe everything you are told! I believed that the man actually lived in the dunes, because the narrator said so. But I forgot that it was just the narrator’s view!

  18. Lynn says:

    I love the concept of that. And you did a wonderful job! I like the ending. :)

    • Sara says:

      @ Lynn — Thank you very much. I appreciate you reading it. It’s nice to see your “eye” again. I hope you and your family are doing okay.

  19. Recca says:

    Glad to read your story Sara. I really appreciate it. You did a wonderful job! Its my pleasure. Thanks for the share. God Bless!

    • Sara says:

      @ Recca — I’m pleased you enjoyed the story. I did go to the article about wrinkles under the eye. I’m one of those weird women who think I earned every single wrinkle. Actually, they aren’t really wrinkles; they’re laugh lines or the stripes we earned for living:~)

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