"At times I think my coffee and tea addictions truly drive my artistic energy. It’s a small sacrifice for the greater good."

Writing Prompt: Firefighters

Posted: 2/3/10 | Written by Jeannie | Labels: , ,

Last Wednesday Nick gave us a prompt for homework via the Random Writers Workshop. It was simply, come up with two characters based off of the following scenario: Fire captain pulls his crew back thinking the fire won't jump the road. A woman on the crew tries to get him to realize that it's potentially dangerous.

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An angry beast
“Pull that line back.” Todd barked at the remaining firefighters. “Get out of there!” He looked frantically back and forth counting his men. The smoke and heat played with his vision, he was one shy of a full crew. “MICHELLE! Get your ass back here!” He yelled at the petite mirage like figure which stood much too close to the flames.

“Capt’n,” her voice strained as the beast roared. “We’ve got to make that break larger.” She looked up at the flames which seemed to lick the trees across the narrow road. Sweat gathered in the wrinkles of her forehead. Enough battles with this beast and so many like it made her realize it wasn’t a matter of if the fire jumped, but when.

“Fuck Michelle, do what I say.” His brow furrowed. Thin lips pursed. Square jaw locked. “We’ve got to move back. I shouldn’t have to explain it to you.”

“If that fire jumps all our work,” Michelle paused and looked back. She understood it was not the time to be pensive but there was no reasonable explanation why they had to pull back. Just a little larger that’s all it would take to make sure it would stay in place. Todd’s eyes narrowed as he stepped closer.

“Get on the fucking rig.” He growled. Michelle looked up, she was not impressed. For all that he was, the man he portrayed himself to be – he was still just a boy trying to prove himself. Todd looked down at her. His fire gear dangled precariously as the conversation turned - like the fire - into something much more. “You will do what I tell you.” She smirked; it was no longer about the fire. It was about her.

Michelle had long known about his views towards women. The whispers from the firefighter’s wives as they sat together during BBQ’s; stories of anger unleashed. They justified his actions. “You would have to be angry after seeing as much as he has,” they said. “If she was right for him, they wouldn’t fight as much as they do,” they said. It was horse shit. Anyone that angry at the world, constantly on edge and ready to fight had been that way their entire life. Still, the boy trying to be a man directed it to the only one he thought wouldn’t fight back – a woman.

“Why? Because you said so? Fuck Todd listen to me.” She hated cursing, but out here it was the only way she could get through to them. “Open your god damn eyes,” Michelle pointed to the trees across the road. They had started to singe. Her frazzled brown hair stuck to the sides of her face as sweat trickled down giving her an otherworldly glow – a glimpse into what would happen if they stopped: death. “We can contain it. Here. Now,” her nostrils flared she would not back down from this. Todd was half her age he had to see the wisdom in what she said.

“If you don’t get on that rig,” Todd’s words came out like poison. One brow cocked as he smiled; a twisted, sadistic smile. “I will leave you. And the headline will read, ‘Woman firefighter died when flames jumped.’ Not if but when. You think I don’t know they’ll jump? My men are tired. We’ve stalled long enough anymore, and accidents will happen. So. Get, on the fucking rig.” She took a step back. The reflection of the fire burned in his eyes. He knew this fire would jump. It was a matter of time, but he knew. Michelle walked to the rig, it was no use. She saw all she needed to know in his eyes. The hatred he had was not towards women but towards the living, breathing beast of a fire. He was angry because he couldn’t beat it – a failed battle of human strength.

© 2010 - Jeannie Hart

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Creating yourself as a character
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2 replies:

  1. N.L. Belardes said...
  2. Yes! Love this. Instant dislike for the jerk captain. Her wisdom shined through to the reader.

    Speed bumps. Watch those commas. Use after the word "fuck" so it doesn't look like they're about to do the naughty naughty.

    e.g.: “Why? Because you said so? Fuck Todd listen to me.”

    Comma: “Why? Because you said so? Fuck, Todd listen to me.”

    I think this sentence is unnecessary: "Michelle had long known about his views towards women." Your reader will totally get he's a douchebag without saying that. Instead, something like: "She's heard the whispers..."

    Anyway, this is damn good. You are on a serious road to success with your writing...

    Nick

  3. N.L. Belardes said...
  4. It would even be better like this: "Fuck. Todd, listen to me."

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