Sunday, June 22, 2014

Campfire Story - A Summer's Eve - Part 1 - By Judi Phillips



Midmorning on Friday, Melissa Perkins hummed a tune as she finished loading her car and closed the hatch door. Since she'd been a little girl, Midsummer's Eve had been her favorite holiday. Nanna Jo told the most wonderful stories about Stonehenge, ancient Celtic traditions and fairies. Lissa's favorite was the one that advised sitting in a fairy garden under a full moon. If you sat quietly, you might glimpse little sparkles of light, the fairies dancing to celebrate the longest day of the year.

She'd taken a vacation day on Friday, a perk as the office manager at Dad's PR firm. He knew how important the celebration was to Lissa, especially this year. She wanted to make sure everything was perfect for the balefire, the ancient term for the solstice bonfire.

An ominous thump, thump, wabble coming from the back of the car sent her heart to her throat. She coasted to the side of the road. Muttering beneath her breath, she exited her car and inspected the rear tires. One was flat. Why, today of all days? She needed to be at Dragons B Welcome, Nanna's camp. In addition to today being Summer Solstice, it had been Nanna Jo's birthday--two reasons to celebrate. A couple of years after she and Gramps had built their camp, she had started a Midsummer Eve tradition at Campfire Circle and Lissa had promised Nanna she would continue the tradition. Lissa hadn't been able to face the sadness of doing it last year, but nothing was going to stop her this year.

She swiped her phone open. It was nearly out of power. Not a good omen. She dialed for roadside service, hoping it wouldn't die before the call went through. If luck was with her, she could be on her way in a reasonably short time. 

An hour later she was back on the road. Driving through North Windham, she passed the safety building and saw that the fire danger level was closing in on the red zone. Made sense because there hadn't been much rain this month, but it could mean tomorrow night might not happen. And that would be a huge disappointment.

* * *

Jason Dinsmore had closed the first major contract since he'd started his own architect firm, Dinsmore & Associates, the associate being his office assistant. To celebrate, he'd decided to close his office for the entire weekend, rather than stay open a half day on Saturday. He had a small drafting table and all the essential gear at his camp, Black Bear Inn. He'd designed and built it right after receiving his degree, and named for the uninvited guest he'd seen that summer. At camp, he could begin making detailed drawings without the interruptions from e-mail and phone calls.

Arriving at Black Bear Inn, he popped the trunk and grabbed his duffle bag. Halfway up the path, he spotted a flyer stuck between the screen and inside door. He was about to crumple it when the words “Welcome Mid-Summer” caught his attention. He'd been to a few of the celebrations over the years. It was nice chance to enjoy the company of other Campfire Circle folks - especially Lissa Perkins. He thought her grandmother had passed, but maybe not. Josephine had always been the one to organize the festivities.

Good thing he'd brought a package of brats to grill. He could contribute those and a bag of chips. And maybe some of Mom's special zucchini relish. He had the key to the camp if his parents weren't here.
Just before noon, he stretched and pushed aside his drawings. He'd made good progress. Time to see who was here. He walked around the circle. It seemed most everyone and decided to come to their camps this weekend.

At the next to the last house on the circle, he recognized Lissa's car parked in the driveway and knocked on the door. "Just a minute," a warbley voice called. The door opened a crack and Lissa peered out, eyes red.

"You okay?"

She shook her head.

"Can I come in?"

She pulled the door open.

"What's the matter?"

"Tonight's not going to happen."

"I'm not sure what you mean."

"You know." Tears welled in her eyes. "The bonfire."

He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. "Why not?"

"I just called the fire department. The fire danger's too high. I'm going to have to cancel." A sob caught in her throat.