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Camp Fire

by Suzsi Mandeville 8 months ago in fiction

My father knows stuff

Camp Fire

I don’t hate. That’s silly. Not hate, not-hate-not-hate-hate-hate. No. I understand. And I’m sympathetic. Yes. Don’t you realise that I really do sympathise? Different can be good. It can be bad. It’s all perspective. Yes. That’s what my father taught me. And he should know.


My father knew stuff. He knew. He knew what was right. And what was wrong. He knew. He showed me. When we went camping, he would show me, and he would teach me, and he knew stuff. Yes, he knew what was right. He could put up a tent in minutes. He could climb a rock-face. He could start a fire. He caught a fish and he cooked it over the fire. It was delicious. I smelled it. Delicious. I could imagine it, soft white flesh, falling apart on the fork. It sizzled in the pan, butter making smacking noises against its silver side, eyes turning white as they fried, the fish quivering, as if still being moved by the currents… It looked delicious. He ate it all.

‘A man has to take care of himself. If you want to eat, catch a fish, catch a rabbit. Be a hunter. Be a survivor!’ Yes, I was hungry, but I learned, and I didn’t hate him. I don’t hate.

I fed the logs into the fire. The nights were always cold, but my father kept me warm. ‘See those stars?’ he said. ‘That’s the eyes of heaven. They watch. But they never do anything. They don’t judge. They don’t act. That’s up to us. Men have to do things. There was this old film with John Wayne. He said, ‘A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.’ And he was right. They don’t understand that anymore. A man has to be a man. He has to do what a man has to do. Understand?’

I nodded. I never said that I didn’t understand. My father knew stuff and he knew what was right, so a man had to do what a man had to do. Once I understood that, it explained everything. So simple. It’s just so simple.

There were a lot of other men at the camp site. Funny, that. No women. Just men. Some of them got drunk. Some of them were naked. One of them was my father. One of them was my father’s friend. They were laughing a lot. I can’t remember my father laughing that much any other time. He was very happy. He gave me a glass of something that they were drinking. I didn’t like it. I wanted to eat something, but there was no food. I had another drink, everyone laughed. I think I fell over. Everyone laughed. I remember. No one helped me up. I slept where I lay.


It was morning when I woke up. I hurt. I was very cold and the still morning air drummed in my head like a gale. The camp fire was barely alive, embers breathing their last gasp; stinking like death. Gently, I fed sticks into the grey ash. It glowed. I lifted the blackened stumps enough to feed it the air that it so desperately needed. The fire lived. It sprang onto the sticks. I fed it more, and then it ravenously bit into the branch that I held out. Hungry! I understood all about hunger. I wanted to feed it more. Even as I was hungry, the fire was hungrier.

I fed it the nearest tent. And the next. And the next! Zipped tents suddenly danced and flailed about as the men woke to the flames that consumed them. I fed them all to the fire and it devoured them all. Greedy. Rejoicing. Gluttonous.

It was intense! See. I don’t hate. I have a sense of humour even. Camp fire. Even the name is a pun.


Suzsi Mandeville

I love to write - it's my escape from the hum-drum into pure fantasy. Where else can you get into a stranger's brain, have a love affair or do a murder? I write poems, short stories, plays, 3 novels and a cookbook (written as a plumber).

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Suzsi Mandeville
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