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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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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