Chapter 1: Born of Smoke and Flame

Aaron DeBee
7 min readApr 4, 2018

The first flash-fiction installment of a long-term series

Chapter 2 of this series can be found by clicking the link.

I wake to the acrid smell of smoke. My first two feelings are alarm and irritation. I assume for a few moments that I fell asleep with the stove still on. I tend to do that when I’ve been drinking, and last night I was definitely drinking.

I’m just beginning to wonder what pan I’ve ruined this time when I catch a whiff of the hoodie I apparently took off and rolled into a makeshift pillow. It is damp in spots, and it smells strongly of smoke and ash.

And then it hits me, like a wave breaking against a rocky shore. I remember where I was and what I did last night, and I immediately retch, craning my head out over the side of my bed just far enough to avoid drenching my comforter with vomit. I can’t even be sure it didn’t get splashed a bit.

When I’m done heaving, I snatch up the dirty hoodie, wipe my sour mouth, and toss the hoodie into the laundry basket. Careful not to touch down in the puddle of vomit, but still feeling too weak to move with any agility, I awkwardly stagger to my feet and out into the kitchen.

I scan the counters for any sign of a beverage, but find only the chaotic assortment of food and ingredients I left out last night. The stove isn’t on, I notice, but it just as easily could have been. There’s a pan on the stove filled with grease and the other half of a fish fillet I decided to fry at 1:00am. I’m not quite ready to tackle all of that, so I make my way to the bathroom with a grumble.

I’m dismayed by the blackness smudged across my face. I lean closer to the mirror and paw gracelessly at my right cheek, smearing the oily, black grime. I’m suddenly filled with a wild panic, and I begin stripping off my t-shirt and jeans as quickly as I can. I reach in the cupboard for a new bar of soap, and I start the shower before I finish disrobing. I need…

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Aaron DeBee

Freelance Writer/Blogger/Editor, veteran, Top Rated on Upwork, former Medium Top Writer in Humor, Feminism, Culture, Sports, NFL, etc.