The fire drinks oxygen with every one of its forked tongues, but it doesn’t spread. In fact, it doesn’t really burn. It rides in the back seat like a family dog. Someone else spots it and gets alarmed, so I get alarmed too. We run for buckets, dump water on the fire but it simply shakes itself and goes on speaking in its sophisticated way. We try to reply, but only barks and whines come out. Children, take note: This is what happens when you play with the fire in your belly, when you let it get away. I fill my bucket again at the outside faucet and carry the water as gingerly as if it were an infant, and peering in, I see that it has inherited my face.

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