Over There

The smoky skies this past week reminded me of a post from several years ago:

Writing prompt: Take the first sentence from a favorite novel and make it the first sentence of your post.  

wild fire

She stood up in the garden where she’d been working and looked into the distance. Beyond the hills to the south, a giant cloud reached high into the atmosphere.

Large thunder clouds appeared almost every afternoon in summer, but this mass of cloud looked somehow different. A tinge of pink and a bit of dark brown colored the cloud’s edges.

The frantic tone in her husband Toby’s voice broke her concentration.

“Eve! Evie!” Toby’s face was flushed, his eyes wide with obvious panic.

“That was Ken. On the phone. There’s a wildfire started in the Jefferson last night and…” Toby paused as he took in the cloud in the distance.

“Oh, God.”

“So, that’s…smoke?” Eve asked, somewhat surprised.

“Yes,” Toby said. He took in a deep breath and then looked all around, his eyes darting around the whole horizon.

“But, it’s so white. You sure? How close is it?” Eve demanded.

Toby shook his head. “Could be this side of the park, could be over to Branchesburg. Who knows. Can’t tell from here.”

“Ken didn’t say?” Eve asked. Toby shook his head.

“Looks more like a thunderhead,” Eve protested, “like those, head-for-the-basement type clouds I remember from home. I’ve not seen anything like that before around here. Toby, are you sure?”

“That’s smoke, Evie… Jesus. That’s a lot of smoke.”

“No kidding.”

Eve and Toby stared at the cloud, both lost in dreadful thoughts of the last time a wildfire broke out.

That fire was not close to them, but the devastating effects were felt by everyone in the county. Their church asked members to put up firefighters coming in from all over the state. Eve and Toby agreed, but then they got a call from a guy at Toby’s work looking for a place to put up his sister’s family, because the Red Cross shelter was full. The experience of strangers in the house was awkward and chaotic, but it’s what you do in times like these. Staring at the growing cloud, Eve wondered if Toby’s co-worker would return the favor, should their need arise.

“Come on,” Toby said quietly. “Let’s make some calls.”

“You go ahead,” Eve replied. “I’ll stay here. I want to keep an eye out.”