The Sage of the Living Room Fire – 358 words
They wondered what The Baby was thinking as she sat in front of the fire, hour after hour. It was something of an insult to still be known as The Baby, she was well into her second year of life, but she could not tell them so. It would wait. She held her peace and stared into the fire.
She had very few words. It was fine. She had a sneaking suspicion that language left out the heart of things, anyway. Her family wondered why she laughed to see birds flying over the house – they did not know how the birds were her father, just home from work, lifting her up high, so high, to receive her kiss on his scratchy cheek. And the hawk in the sky who made her laugh was not the hawk who sat on the porch roof to watch for mice between the wood chips. She did not laugh at him, he was the barking dog who lived next to the park and the boy who packed the bags at the store and looked on her with beakish eyes.
Her mother gathered her in her warm lap to point at books, her speech long and low. The Baby just laughed and turned the pages, fast, to watch the colors whirl. She knew the way of the leaves, falling in a rainbow on the grass. She had watched them dry and crackle, slowly turning into a dust that spread over the brown lawn. When the snow came, she knew the leaves were still there, under the crust of ice. Now after a long time the trees began to tease her with little specks of green and she could see the ghost of the old leaves peeking through. Just so. The words in her house swirled around her on the wind. She let them fall. Her time to sprout would come.
The Baby sat in front of the fire and it told her things she would remember all her life, but they stayed in that place between the tree and the earth. She watched it and smiled. Everyone wondered what The Baby was thinking.
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