Fire, Earth, and Blood

This is an excerpt of the story Fire, Earth, and Blood found on

Fire, Earth, and Blood.

My friend died today. He was executed.

My fault. Totally. My. Fucking. Fault.


I met Jason Childers at the side of Krombek Street in Birchacres Ext. 3, or as our parents laughingly called it back then, ‘Tembisa View.’ I was almost 11.

I was desperately trying to coax a fire in a bundle of grass with a box of Lion matches I’d bought for 4 cents. The wind kept blowing out the flame before I could get a match to the yellowed tinder.

“You should sit down. With your back to the wind.” He always did have a way of condescendingly pointing out what you missed. His greatest gift, and biggest social challenge.

I whirled and glared, equal parts embarrassment and terror expressing as anger.

“What do you know? Who’re you anyway?” I snarled at the scrawny kid in his tatty khaki shorts, and holey ‘tackies’ that had once been white.

“Oh,” he replied sheepishly, as if it hadn’t occurred to him to introduce himself, “I’m Childers. Jason Childers. The other okes call me Jase.” He stuck out his hand, oddly formal. “But I don’t like it.” He added. “I’ve just joined Scouts and learned to make a fire.”

“Howzit,” I grabbed his hand, mollified, “I’ll call you J.C. My name is Foxworth Clark.”

J.C. laughed, putting on a plummy accent, “Delighted to meet you, F. C.”

Instinctively he understood I also hated being called ‘Foxy.’

“Now let me show you how to make a rrreal fire.” He held on to the Afrikaans rolling of the ‘r’ to accentuate just how great his fire must be.

We crouched down low to the grass, backs to the wind, and J.C. showed me how to cup the match in your hand and hold the matchbox close to the tinder so the match flared right next to the dry grass. After a couple of goes our little bundle of grass finally caught.

“I’m definitely going to join Scouts.” I said reverently. This was the most amazing accomplishment I’d seen.

In the haze of the African sun the small flames were invisible, and we didn’t notice the expanding patch of black until too late. Suddenly the surrounding knee-high grass was ablaze, the wind whipping it to a fury. “Jukkels,” Jason shouted, “we have to put it out!” We were on the corner of an empty lot in the middle of the new housing development. The fire was racing away from us at the roadside towards the three properties bordering the plot.

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