Belly Of The Beast

Dave’s got a light strapped to his head, a cigar in hand, and a baby monitor and lighter in his pocket. Obviously, he’s up to no good. And that I’m bundled up and about to follow him out in the night means I’m likely not either.

Burning brush we are, and since our smoke signals might alert the wrong kind of attention, like neighbors or authority figures, we’re out here on a stealth mission.

Is it illegal to burn brush? I wouldn’t go that far. But it might mean a citation or strongly-worded warning.

At a degree above freezing, I’ve donned a stocking cap and gloves, and while I wait for Dave, I see my breath from the light of my laptop.

Dave’s thinking of moving his fish tank upstairs to the living room, up from the basement’s office space. The low blue light and the trickle of water will be an excellent background.

Right now, a single flame burns between two pieces of firewood. Currently lit is a homemade firestarter that Dave diy’ed from dryer lint tied tightly into a single-cut egg carton, tied with a string, and the dipped into hot candle wax. They’re the best.

But even after two of those buggers, the wet limbs are, well, too wet.

I remember the time I went into a mine. When all my other cousins turned around, unable to handle seeing the sunny day burn out like a dampened flame, my friend Ben and I continued on. Going from the 95-degree day in my flip flops, shorts, and a bikini top to that chilled air had me hugging myself and my feet going numb from the frigid, pooling water.

We walked until the daylight from the exit hole vanished.

Of course, I thought about dying. I played snippets of the mountain falling in, of my life ending. Even with fear violently tugging on my shoulder to turn around, I didn’t. I couldn’t.

I’d balance on one foot on the silver railing and then the next, trying to keep my feet dry. When the water got too deep, I was forced off it, having to walk on the underwater wooden slats.

There came a point when the fear subsided, and it was just me in that place in time that no one could touch. It’s a feeling I imagine hikers on Everest or astronauts when looking around in space experience. It’s exhilarating, like you’re the godfather pulling all the strings.

I don’t know how far we walked, but we reached a vent. An area cut equally broad as the mine headed straight above us. And the path also t’ed. I remember an old can, bent and weathered there.

By going into the belly of the beast, is that how courage develops? Is that how we gain awareness of ourselves?

I’m under a thick sherpa blanket beside a propane fire on the back deck. It’s not a shabby backup plan to the semi-illegal brush burning. Other than a plane sound, and a dog barking in the distance, it’s quiet. I like the quiet.

Uh oh, another yawn. Time for bed.

Take care. Love, Jaclynn

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