The Flame: By Max B.

The Flame

The ball headed for the fireplace. The peril on TJ’s face was building. He ran to get his shoes.


“Oh my gosh,” TJ murmured. Jack quickly retrieved his shoes as well. The sphere was hurling towards its target in slow motion. I waited to see what would happen.


My parents were about to leave for dinner. Usually they’d hire a babysitter, but I wanted to babysit myself (so I could get paid). So a day earlier, I attempted to convince my mom.


“Hey mom, do you think instead of hiring a babysitter, I could babysit?” I asked hopefully. I had just walked into the kitchen for a snack, when I got the idea.


“Possibly, but why?” she asked after I had gathered my goldfish and sat down.


“I don’t know, I just feel like; I’m 13 now, ad instead of hiring and overpaying a babysitter, you could save money and let me do it!” I tried to sound as convincing as possible.

“That’s not a bad idea, actually,” she said consideringly. I knew my argument was strong enough.

“Let me talk to your father,” she said, ending the conversation temporarily. A couple of hours later, my parents called me into the living room.


“Jason, mute the TV for a sec,” my mother commanded. They were sitting on the long brown leather couch. I took a seat in the matching recliner.


“We thought about your proposal,” my father said, in a very business-like tone.

“And we have agreed to take you up on your offer,” my mom said mimicking my father’s tone.


“YES!… So, uh, how much am I getting paid?” I asked as casually as possible.


“Depends on how well you do,” my dad said matter-of-factly…


Flash Forward to the day of


“We’ll be back in a couple of hours,” My mom said. “Keep this place in order.” They left around 6:30pm.


It was now 8:30pm, so we went into the family room to watch the Packers vs. Seahawks NFC Divisional Round playoff game. It felt like it had been ages since my parents left, but it had only been 2 hours. Jack and I sat down on the couch to watch the game. TJ was throwing a small rubber ball against the wall. I was very annoyed because the recurring bouncing noise was starting to get on my nerves.


“The Seahawks are gonna win because they have the better quarterback,” Jack said trying to sound like an NFL analyst (he was completely wrong; Aaron Rodgers was the best quarterback in the league, and he played for the packers. Not the Seahawks. But he made a good attempt).

“Yeah sure,” I replied. He seemed satisfied. We went back to watching the game. I was listening to Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth discuss Aaron Rodgers’ masterful craft at the quarterback position. I agreed with the two lads; Aaron Rodgers was playing great football. They had just beaten a good Arizona Cardinals team in overtime. My attention was then taken though by the baby-blue and purple flame in the fireplace. It was constantly flickering, but it never went out. The headlights of cars on the highway were visible through the trees in the backyard. The smell of Annie’s White Cheddar mac’n’cheese still lingered in the kitchen. The pot was still on the counter. The sound of the rubber ball bouncing off the wall was still very prominent (and still annoying! TJ doesn’t really have an social awareness).


Then it happened.


“Uh Max?” TJ asked nervously.


“What?” I questioned annoyedly half listening, half watching the game.


“Look!” He yelled.


“Oh my gosh,” I said. “What did you do?!” TJ started to tear up like a rainstorm, first a drizzle then a downpour.


“What’s gonna happen?” he cried. The fire wasn’t large at all though; as it was contained in the fireplace. It looked like a normal fire in the fireplace. But I thought to myself, what if it does spread? What if?


I called my mom immediately.


“Hey mom? Yeah, there’s problem.”




“TJ was tossing a rubber ball around and he accidentally threw it into the fireplace. But, it’s small, and it is contained in the fireplace. My voice was weak and quivering.


“Oh my gosh, ok. So, wait for it to die down. If it doesn’t, call 911.” She said sternly. I did as told. But, in my mind I could hear the sirens blaring through the quiet neighborhood and the big red fire trucks rumbling down the windy driveway. I began to become more worried. The flame was not dying down. I could see the worry in my brother’s eyes. But eventually, the flame got increasingly less intense, and it was almost non-existent before long, thankfully.


It was finally over. Everyone could relax. I called my mom to ensure her that everything was ok. I realized that I could be resilient in even the most stressful times. I was relieved and happy, and Jack was thankful nothing happened. But TJ wasn’t. He still seemed a bit shaken by the previous events.


“Is everything ok?” I asked gently.


“I hope I don’t get in trouble,” He muttered nervously. I let out a small chuckle.


“In trouble? Why? It was just an unlucky accident.” I said. He seemed to feel better after that. My parents arrived home around 10:00pm, and before they were even in the door, they wanted to hear all about the night’s events.


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