Fire in the head: flash fiction

I went out to the hazel wood, because a fire was in my head. And how. What a fire. It wasn’t the first time I’d gone out somewhere because of a fire in my head. In the Old Days, I was constantly walking out somewhere or other to put out some fire or other that was burning in my head. One of my favourite places was the beach. Those waves put out the fire pretty quickly, if you walk straight into them: a bit like lava when it flows into the sea. Cooling to basalt with a fiery sizzle. But we don’t live near the sea any more, we live near the hazel wood. I’m not sure it will have the same cooling effect on my hot head, so I’ve brought some matches just in case I decide to make the fire burn brighter.

© Experimentsinfiction 2021, All Rights Reserved

Written for dVerse

Tonight, Kim is hosting prosery and has asked us to include the lines “I went out to the hazel wood, because a fire was in my head” from Yeats’ The Song of Wandering Aengus. I couldn’t think of any way to make this not sound like a line from a poem, so I decided to use it as the opening to my flash fiction (which must be no more than 144 words, according to the rules of prosery).

The photo is of Kilauea volcano flowing into the sea from the Big Island of Hawaii. I’m lucky enough to have seen this sight for myself once, though I took this image from Pixabay (I don’t have digital copies of my Hawaii photos.)

59 thoughts on “Fire in the head: flash fiction

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  1. Love this! I resonate strongly with; “One of my favourite places was the beach. Those waves put out the fire pretty quickly, if you walk straight into them.” 💝💝 I find that one is most in sync with the heart and its inner-workings while near the ocean.

  2. Oh dear….is this an arsonist at heart? Has she taken out those matches in other places that didn’t cool her off enough? I want to know more!
    We did a lava walk many many years ago on the Big Island….stayed in a beautiful home in an area that is now completely covered by miles deep lava from Kilauea. We started the lava walk in the afternoon….could see the steam rising far off where the lava was cascading ever so slowly (at the time) into the ocean. Our walk back to the starting point was at night, with flashlights, and we could see the red dotting the landscape behind us and to the side of us, where Kilauea was slowly slowly slowly oozing out of cracks and fissures. We actually have our photo beside a red small pond of lava bubbling….I can’t believe that we did that now. It was a guided tour….quite amazing. Would NEVER do anything like that now!

    1. This sounds thrilling! Did you stay in Kalapana? We flew over it in a helicopter and all that was left was a B&B called ‘Lava Jack’s’ and I believe that has been swallowed by the lava now as well…

  3. This reminds me of David Bowie singing the song of Cat People— putting out fire with gasoline… once you have a fire in your head, maybe only more fire helps.

    I saw David Bowie live in 1983, and that was one of the songs he sang.

  4. The MC appeared passionate and driven at first, but as the story wove on, they took on a sinister aspect. I wonder how many times she’s made the fire burn brighter? A lot is known about arsonists, but there’s much more that isn’t known. Excellent story, Ingrid.

  5. I can feel her pain, but I gasped at the end. I think with all the fires in California, and some we had in the Pine Barrens in NJ, it scares me to think of anyone starting a fire in the woods.

  6. A wonderful comparison. Pele must have had a raging fire in her head! You must have been to California last summer! Someone there carried matches also.

  7. I think the prompt lines work really well as an opening, Ingrid, especially the words ‘a fire was in my head’ and, in your piece, they led to an effective monologue, a dive into a character’s subconscious. I love the simile ‘a bit like lava when it flows into the sea. Cooling to basalt with a fiery sizzle.’

  8. I do hope she gave the matches a second thought!! Born in the midwest, I identify with putting out fires in the forest rather than on the beach. NEVER with matches, however!!!

  9. I heard Hendrix whispering. “Let me stand next to your fire”? What the hell that was doing in my head, I don’t know. But I do know, castles made of sand, fall in the sea, eventually. This had my mind spinning a bit Ingrid — sort of intoxicating, like a fire in the head! I saw towering beach piers, being washed away in tsunamis — I liked this splas and sizzle.

  10. Ingrid, I enjoyed your story. The ending made me chuckle. When I was in sixth grade, I carried a humongous purse to school that weighed about 10 pounds. As a former Brownie Scout, I believed in being prepared! I shudder to think what a teacher today would do if they found a pocket knife and matches in a student’s possession. 🙂 It never occurred to me that you personally might set fire to the hazel wood, just as it never occurred to me that carrying a knife and matches to school. could have gotten me into trouble.

    Have a great day!

  11. I thoroughly enjoyed this, Ingrid. Having lived near the Atlantic, living now near the Cascades … I can say I love them equally for totally different reasons. I’ve also extinguished many a ‘head’ fire walking on the beach …. and on the mountain path. Brava.

  12. This is very well done. I love the use of metaphor for fire combined with the subsequent scientific facts about geology (lava + water = basalt). This type of application of how I learn things. I bet I am not alone.

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