The flames devoured hillsides, exhaling conical smoke lines like the growing plumes of an old steam locomotive. Northbound winds rose from the changing heat, scaling the marsh’s cattail walls. These grasses shifted as one infinite and limbless mass. But they remained, rooted in that spot. Another gust delivered itself to the marsh. And those shaking bulrushes smacked together with a seeded, vibrating crack. With each ensuing blow more cattails burst in couplets. The smoke swallowed all shore greenery.
In his half of the split house off the main road, on Holt Drive, the man with a pacemaker in his chest waits. “I am moving to those foothills beyond me,” he nods. He palms his chest, coughs, “Yes. I will move to the low foothills.” Outside, birch leaves tremble like a thousand tambourines.
He forgets, now, to close the windows. The room fills with ash flakes. He wipes the table to set for dinner.