amwriting · california · non-fiction · Uncategorized

Wildfires: A Comedy

Day two in a smokey house.


Day one started with me turning on the heater.
Not the best choice given that your AC system pulls air from the outside and pumps it in.
I turned off the heater a couple hours later, realizing my mistake.
The house grew smokier throughout the day.
After dinner, my husband noticed a sizable crack between our door and the frame, where air was getting in.
“No wonder it’s so smokey in here,” he said.
We pushed a box of books in front of the door to secure it against the frame, and then I taped the door jamb.
Later on, when I was already in bed, my husband yelled, “Amanda, why is the air on?!”
“What?” I said. “I didn’t turn it on!”
The system even said “Off.”
John went through all the settings.
The “fan” somehow got kicked on.
Or was never turned off. Who knows!


Today, day two: 
Door is still sealed. The fan is not mysteriously on.
John’s classes get canceled, so he is home with me.
He offers to make us lunch: egg-in-a-hole.
He puts bread and eggs in the cast iron skillet and says,
“I don’t think it’s hot enough.”
He turns the heat higher.
Smoke billows up off the pan.
Both of our smoke detectors scream.
I am fanning them down with a button-up shirt.
The detectors stop. I stop fanning.
They scream again.
I fan furiously, this time cursing:
“Fuck you! Fuck you!” to the smoke detectors and
“Turn the damn burner down!” to John.
The smoke detectors relent.
“This is the worst,” I yell.
 I keep swatting the air to prevent the detectors from going off again.
Our house is filling up with more smoke that we can’t air out.
My right arm aches. I switch to my left arm.
As I swat, one of the buttons catches my hair.
I stop.
I unfasten the remaining hair that’s twisted around the button.
My scalp is throbbing.
I run my hand through the back of my head where I felt it yank.
I comb out a small handful of stringy hair, like when you clean out your brush.
I am fuming. The house is fuming.
The detectors go off.


John and I sit down to eat.
The egg-in-a-holes are tasteless.
My egg has pasty clear bits that tell you it isn’t done.
“I failed,” John says.
He bows his head down over his plate and starts listing more fails.
“The fires.
People’s houses are gone.
Our house is smokey.
The crack in the door.
The fan.
I don’t want to finish this [egg-in-a-hole].”
We both break into laughter.
I eye my plate. “Yeah. I’m not eating this.”


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