Playing with Fire by
(306 Stories)

Prompted By Fire

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Playing with Fire

As a child I spent summers with my family at my grandmother’s small Catskills hotel.  (See My Game Mother,  My Heart Remembers My Grandmother’s Hotel , The Troubadour,  Hotel Kittens, The Cat and the Forshpeiz and Our Special Guests)

One summer a family with a son about my age –  we both must have been 8 or 9 –  came to the hotel for a week or two.  His name was Miles,  and as we joked years later when we met by serendipity,  we were each other’s first lover.  In fact I have only a vague memory of us “playing doctor ”,   as Miles reminded me we did,  but I distinctly remember the day we got in a bit of trouble.

I don’t know what we were trying to burn that summer afternoon,  but I remember kneeling on the lawn behind the hotel kitchen as Miles struck a match,  and suddenly to our horror flames began licking the grass.

No fire trucks arrived on the scene,  and luckily there was no big conflagration.  Rather I remember some hotel staffers rushing out from the kitchen,   putting out the fire with a hose,  and comforting two very frightened children.

I assume we were both punished and I doubt we ever did anything that naughty again,  but I know Miles’ family came to the hotel for several summers after that and we continued our liaison.  Then,  when I was 11 my grandmother sold the hotel and our families lost touch.

By chance about 10 years later Miles and I were both taking the Graduate Record Exams in the same Columbia University hall.  No sparks flew that time, altho we did give it a try –  but that’s another story!

– Dana Susan Lehrman 

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Fire


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    A different kind of spark, I’d say Dana! Glad the fire wasn’t too terrible – no loss of life or property, but hope you both learned to NOT play with matches!

  2. Suzy says:

    This is a fun story, Dana. Since you just “assume” you were punished, but don’t remember it, It couldn’t have been too bad. And now that you’ve teased us, you have to tell us about chapter 2 with Miles.

  3. Marian says:

    I’m sure one of the lost-and-found or reconnecting prompts would work for the rest of the story, Dana. You have us hooked now!

    • Oh dear Marian, I really didn’t mean to tease you, the Miles adventure ended in disappointment, not worthy of a Retro story.

      It was not even a romantic disappointment, that was not in the cards, but we kept in touch and years later I applied for an NEA summer grant to study Shakespeare at Temple U in Philly.

      Miles taught English there and I simply asked him to put in a good word to the professor running the NEA program. I wasn’t proposing a bribe or anything unethical, yet he replied very ungraciously, almost angrily, as if I were. I was taken aback and hurt. Maybe I was the one in the wrong … altho I honestly think not!

      And this was the guy I played doctor with in my pre-pubescence!

  4. Lovely story, almost like a 50s tune, each liaison a verse or a chorus. Very realistic but sweet as well. A vivacious combination.

    No, you weren’t in the wrong, Miles was male defensive (we can get huffy) and I’m sure it had more to do with his vestigial attraction to you than it did any breach of ethics.

  5. Sure, Dana! Those ‘trysts’ — not sure those early explorations could qualify as such — are probably memorable for all, although I think my willing ‘partner’ ceased being curious before I did. I mean, what’s the mystery in male anatomy?

  6. Ah yes we women are much more mysterious, and vive la difference!

  7. Khati Hendry says:

    Playing with fire in different ways, great story. That is probably a prompt in itself. As a thirteen year old, a friend and I set the room on fire by lighting nail polish remover, and we had to beat it out as “fireman Phil” had taught me in elementary school. The adults never quite figured out what happened, but we were chastened by the near disaster.

  8. Betsy Pfau says:

    Fire is alluring, Dana. In our home in the suburbs, we had an unfinished basement and I used to go down there and try to light a candle to watch it burn on the cement. Thanks goodness, I was never very successful.

  9. Khati Hendry says:

    Thanks for reposting. I see my previous comment was a concise version of the story I posted for the August Fire prompt, so you can get the longer story now.

  10. Laurie Levy says:

    Playing with fire is something lots of kids do. I remember one of my brothers lighting kitchen matches outside, but luckily for him he didn’t start a real fire.

  11. pattyv says:

    Even to this day we’re fascinated by fire, look at all the backyard fire pits. I think when we’re young our parents so mindfully warn us, that it instills us with an added attraction to that blazing inferno.

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