Monday, July 19, 2010

Playing With Fire: A Magpie Tale

Life was much simpler when we were children.  We'd get up in the morning, throw on some clothes, get some breakfast, then head outside.  We'd spend our day playing in one of the long defunct outbuildings, trying to lasso our donkey for a ride, wading in the creek, exploring the barn, or going fishing with a safety pin attached to a stick with a piece of string.  Pirates, kings & queens, sorcerers, cowboys, witches... you name it, we played it!  Sometime around noon, Mom would call us in for lunch, which most often consisted of grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup and Art Linkletter's radio show.  Then we'd head back out to play until supper.

After a long day of fantasy play, it was no wonder witches sometimes entered my dreams.   My brother and I shared a room across the hall from my parents, while my sister had her own room.  But when we got scared by things that go bump in the night, it was my sister's door we'd knock on.  Since it was not in her plan to host annoying younger siblings, she begrudgingly let us in... but made us sleep in her closet.  We'd wrap up in the blankets that we brought with us to wait out the fear.  Hanging on the hooks above our heads were huge petticoats made of tulle... de rigueur for little girls of the 50's.  Perfect tinder for the candles and matches my sister gave us for light in the otherwise dark closet.  My brother and I would huddle together, mesmerized by the candle flame flickering up toward the waiting petticoats.  Amazingly, we never burned the house down during those 1001 Closet Nights.

Being a "good girl", I never played with matches beyond my sister's closet.  But my brother was just getting started, continuing to experiment with matches in our playroom closet downstairs... until the day the flames caught hold.  Somehow, my mother managed to put out the flames before the entire house went up in smoke.  (Living far out in the country, the fire trucks would never have made it on time.)  But an entire closet full of toys were charred beyond recognition before the flames were finally put out.

Sooner or later, we were all tempted to play with fire, either literally or figuratively.

Unfortunately, we never knew who was going to get burned.   As we grew up, we just became more of who we were back then.  Today my sister is an uber-organized, successful businesswoman who is undeterred by setbacks; I still tend to turn inward and long to hide in a closet when experiencing self-doubt; and my brother crashed and burned, eventually ending up homeless and without means of support.  Sadly, he's the one who played with fire and lost. 

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Willow over at Life at Willow Manor  has been providing inspiration for bloggers with her photo prompts on a site called Magpie Tales.  Be sure to check out the other fabulous writers participating in Magpie Tales this week.  You'll be glad you did!
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