The Peacock by
(307 Stories)

Prompted By Fire

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Both my husband and I bear the scars of early burns.  Mine is under my chin and dates from a very minor,  almost funny childhood accident;  his scar is on his arm, dates from the hour of his birth, and tells a more somber tale.

As I child I loved summer camp and went on to be a camper waitress,  and then a drama counselor. (See Frenched!,  The Camper-Waitress Goes to the Fair, and Piano Man – Remembering Herb)

One memorable summer when I was a young camper we were sitting around a campfire toasting marshmallows on sticks as a counselor told a ghost story.  Intent on the scary story,  I took my stick out of the fire to eat my toasty marshmallow  but as I raised it to my mouth it hit me under the chin instead.  Now decades later I have the scar of what I affectionately call my “marshmallow burn”.

How my husband was burned is quite a different story.

On the cusp of WWII and the Nazi horror,  my husband’s parents fled Europe.   (See Family Photo and  Tracing Our Roots)

They were able to get visas for Bolivia where they lived for the duration of the war and where my husband was born – prematurely.   The hospital conditions were relatively primitive and there were no incubators for premies.  Instead the 5 pound baby was placed on a shelf under the table where his mother had labored, and where she was then being treated for a serious post-partum complication.   Meanwhile a hot water bottle was placed beside the infant and altho it kept him warm,  it badly burned and scarred his arm.  But thankfully mother and baby survived their ordeals and after the war the family sailed for the States.

Of course my husband doesn’t remember the kindly Bolivian doctor who delivered him and treated his mother,  and has only heard the hot water bottle story that explains his badly burnt arm.  But he does have wonderful memories of his early years in Cochabamba, a city of beautiful fountains, squares, and parks.

And as a three-year old he remembers playing in a Bolivian park where a peacock frightened him by suddenly spreading its beautiful feathers.

– 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: Accidents, Premature babies, Bolivia
Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Those marshmallow sticks can be dangerous, as you’ve just described, Dana. They should come with a warning label to “handle with care” or “adult supervision required”. People are so caught up with watching the flaming object that they forget that what’s on the stick is dangerous! At least your injury wasn’t too bad.

    Danny’s story is much more serious, but at least, rather than life-threatening, it was meant to save his life, which obviously it did. I like the story of the peacock (do you know that Pfau means peacock in German?) Growing up, we lived a block from the Detroit Zoo and could hear those things squawking all the time. For something so beautiful, the do make a fuss!

  2. Dana: these are very dear stories of being burned. They leave you with unharmful memories.
    I presume the eyes of the peacock remind him of his own scar and yours. Nice.

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    Every picture (and scar) tells a story. And what stories you have! And Danny’s larger story is a long and difficult one with the birth just one small piece. Fortunately you both survived well in the long run, and can share the tales with us.

  4. pattyv says:

    Marshmallows, and peacocks, only you Dana can tell these stories. Danny’s birth and survival depended on that too hot water bottle. I was a preemie but experienced the luxury of a decent hospital in the United States. Sometimes when I think of the beauty of Cochabamba and that gorgeous peacock, I wonder which world is truly more valuable.

  5. This was a creative response to the prompt, each of you having burn marks that reflect fires of many decades ago. I wondered where the peacock would enter the scenario, and when it did, I marveled at how you had found a wonderful way to end your story and a great route to choosing an impressive illustration too.

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    The scars we have each come with a story. Your husband’s is really unique. Thankfully, he survived the trauma of his birth and was rewarded with the opportunity to see a peacock and then come to the U.S.

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