The fire burned. Soothing pops, well-timed crackles, imagined heat that provided comfort and safety, but no smoke.
This fireplace was streaming from the YouTube app from the Roku device on in the living room. But the smoke, the unpredictable smoke was missed.
I was about six when I first learned the lesson of smoke. It was a fire in the backyard of my grandmother’s home. With a four inch long fluffy beard, a semi-heavy coat and rain boots, my dad stood on the side of it with me. A green garden hose with a nozzle laid in the grass next to him. He was a fireman and I knew my dad wasn’t about to the let that fire even think about touching grandma’s house.
The smell of a fire outside was different than other fires. Not like burnt toast. Not like like burnt rubber when the tires screamed in that blue car driving by that mom always said drove too fast.
Not like fear.
It smelled like a prayer, but at the time, I no idea that a prayer could have its own very own smell. All I knew is that somehow this particular smell meant everything was quiet and you could think. My dad was quiet. I was quiet. Everything felt at peace. I could almost feel my father’s peace and he hadn’t really said much.
The white smoke reached out and grabbed my face. I tried to blow it out of the way, but it only made me cough. I ran to my dad where there was no smoke and I could breathe.
The same flicker was there. The same licking of the flames on the logs in the middle. The same comforting heat, but then, the white smoke jumped at my face again. This time, I tried to get away. My dad backed up and batted at it with his arms like he was trying to cool it off. I ran to the other side. I waited a few seconds and it followed. I began waving my arms frantically to make it go away, but it didn’t.
“Dad! It won’t leave me alone! Make it stop!”
“I can’t.” He said.
“Why does it want me?!” I kept dodging as best I could.
His words were pointed and certain, “Smoke follows beauty.”
I suddenly felt sorry for Cinderella. Deep down though, I wondered if as a girl, I had this secret superpower somehow bestowed upon me from birth. “Beauty. I have beauty. I am beautiful.” In my heart, I felt like a grown up princess in the castle of my father and instead of dodging the smoke, I danced with it.