Y’know, it wasn’t till sometime this year that the curtains stopped stinkin’ of smoke. Even now, when it’s sunny like it was, the smell still finds its way out, and into the noses of all of us that was there. We should take ’em down and wash ’em I suppose, but we don’t really take care of nothin’ here no more.

Didn’t you know? Hell. They’re sayin’ it’ll come back, and the next time it’ll take us all, and I mean really take us, this whole town, cos there ain’t no trees left to slow it down this year.

The first fire burned twelve days in all, went all through the pine ridge. We got so used to the smell, we stopped smellin’ it. We’re a simple kinda people here, y’know. Just get on. But on the twelfth day, we all thought it was curtains.

What do I remember most? The goddamn flakes comin’ down. It’s like I can feel ’em again now, all this ash in the air, brushin’ against my cheeks. I thought about it after and it was like the spirits of all the things that had passed on in there, sayin’ goodbye. Man, I ain’t never told that to nobody before, don’t say it was me as said that, you hear? But that’s what it was. It was like grey snow in your face. Like angel feathers fallin’ down to earth.

And there was the stingin’, yeah, mostly it was somethin’ in the air that made everyone’s eyes sting so bad, the whole town was cryin’ with it, with the smoke and all. We’re the highest, see, and on the last day we saw ’em all runnin’ out, down in the valley. We watched the flames leap from house to house. Till we couldn’t see nothing no more. It was black as night, ‘cept for this orange cloud, ragin’, eatin’, hell it was angry.

I’m not even sure we could see much by then. Perhaps we just felt it. It was damn hot. Red hot air, it was. And them burnin’ ghost bits, all floatin’ still. The smoke came up to us faster than a train at full whack, and as God is my witness I thought we’d be next. Ain’t never seen a fire so hungry as that one. I’m tellin’ you, He put it out for us, without a doubt. Left a couple sticks of charcoal just to remind us. Ain’t never lit a barbecue since.