Orange sparks drifted upward into the night sky. Below them, flames fed upon fragrant pine boughs, leaping high and higher. The popping hiss of logs and branches lent the dancing flames voice, like a smoker singing to the tune of the whistling wind.
I had questions for the builder of this bonfire, for those fluttering sparks contained puffs of stardust, occasionally throwing off sunshine and sparkling colors. After I found it unattended, I waited, watching, long into the night, but the maker never returned. Nor did the fire burn down. As my mind grew weary, the crackling sounded more like laughter, and the flame tips looked like twirling fingertips.
Late into the night, one blink turned longer than the ones before, and on the other side of it, I found someone bent at the waist, peering into my face. This someone was made of fire.
I sat up straight where I had dozed against a tree trunk, drawing back from the heat of the flames.
The fire spirit squinted kerosene blue eyes in the approximation of a smile. “Well met, cousin.”
“Cousin?” I echoed. Behind it, the bonfire was nothing but embers.
In a voice like burning brush, the spirit said, “You have flames in your heart.” It then executed an exhilarated spin, shedding more colorful sparks into the grass all around.
I smiled at such delight. “And you have a star in yours.” Licking my thumb, I snuffed out a smoldering thread of my coat. “Which way from here, cousin?”
“Hopeward,” the fiery creature cried, dancing back onto its bed of coals. “Duskward!”
With a whoosh, the flames sank into the earth, leaving nothing behind but a patch of black soot. The final flaming tendril was a finger, pointing me toward the west.
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Featuring an exclusive Hopeful Wanderer short-story!
For over 100 years, Texas High Plains Writers has been a part of great storytelling in Texas and beyond.
This year, our anthology offers a collection of short-stories, memoirs, inspirational essays, and poetry filled with hope.
With 22 talented authors, from best-sellers to the first time in print, there is something for everyone.
Great heroes of legends past sit side by side in these pages with the unsung citizens showing kindness to strangers. Humor, adventure, and nostalgia combine to remind us all that hope can be found anywhere.
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