The Firewalk

Through the smoke drifting across the inky black sky, I watched with trepidation mounting, the roaring flames of the great bonfires. Silent, I stared passed the red flames to my cozy bed in my safe home and wished I could be there. The noise of the crowd around me was deafening and brought me back to my senses. I followed the excited mob along the street, choking on the breath that was trying to calm me. In ancient rituals, men were tested for their manhood by walking across red-hot coals barefooted, and here I was, a fifteen year-old girl braving herself for the event ahead. All of us, over five hundred at least, were about to attempt the Fire-walk, an experience to teach us how to overcome our fears. If anything could make me overcome my fears, this should do it.

The leader of the gang, an over six-foot tall giant of a man named Tony, loomed over me with flames mirrored in his eyes. There was no turning back now and, with booming voice he said to me, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself! Are you ready?” His words echoed over the crowd but were soon lost in the rising of chaos.

With a wildly pounding heart I stepped into a power stance and calmed my thoughts. With steady, calculated breaths, my head slowly cleared and the noise around me vanished. I was aware only of the strength emanating from within, and the clearness of thought. Poised and confident, I took the first step. The world was a haze about me as I gazed up at the bright moon and repeated to myself, “cool moss, cool moss, cool moss…”

Not one halting step did I make as I crossed the red-hot coals. It seemed and eternity to cross but neither did I feel the heat of this devilish trattoir. Forty feet of coals that were alive with red fury passed by without notice under my nose. Then suddenly, I felt cool moss! I had made it to the end where my toes sunk luxuriously in soft wet grass with cool water streaming over them.

Cheers and pats on the back hailed me as I walked out and laughing, I danced a jig of happy triumph and crazy delight. As more people came out after their own successes, we cheered and hugged and danced some more. It was a wonderful victory that night, one none of us will ever forget.

I slowly made my way through the crowd to gather my things together and prepare to leave. I could still hear the faint cries of people still animated people. With exhilaration of a light heart I danced my way barefoot to where my belongings were. I stopped for a moment to rub my foot as it began to bother me and began on my way again. Soon, however, it became more than a nuisance and so I sat down on a near-by bench and examined my foot. As I turned over my foot, I noticed a sort of mushy bubble of skin around my big toe. “Oh no!” I cried. “I must have stayed on a coal one too many seconds,” as it became apparent by the reddening welt that a blister had formed. I got up and started to limp my way back with the pain in my foot growing and my spirits sinking. I found my things and as quickly as my sore foot would allow, I made my way to my car in the middle of the night.

The night had lost its thrill and a miserable person with hunched shoulder limped away into the shadowy night.

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