Writing prompt: the woods burst into flame

Time: 10 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“The woods burst into flame”


The sky seemed to darken in an instant. Heavy clouds swirled, and lightning flashed. Only a moment ago, it had been a perfect summer day. Around Nadya and Vanya, the woods burst into flames.

“How?” Vanya cried.

Nadya grabbed Vanya’s hand and ran. Vanya had such a habit wanting to know the why of things, and as the flames licked around the great trees, the why was not currently important. Nadya saved her curiosity for the relevant time.

Flames seemed to repel them on all sides. Above, dark clouds still swirled. Flocks of bird and animals also fled the uncanny fire too, and so the air and trees were full of frightened motion. Nadya and Vanya were encircled by flames. There was nowhere to run.

Vanya sat on the ground and began to cry. “It’s so hot, I just want to go home.” He was only six, and even in her frustration with her brother, her heart ached for him. As the big sister, it was her job to provide safety, but she too was tempted to collapse onto the ground and give in. It seemed inevitable at this point.

“Vanya, come with me,” Nadya said, a sudden idea in her mind. It might not save them, but it was something. “Climb this tree with me.”

“But—” Vanya tears paused as confusion took over, “Papa says we must never climb those trees. That children who do are never seen again, or fall to their death.”

“Vanya, look around,” Nadya said, suddenly manic with the idea, “we could use a miraculous disappearance. I don’t know where we’d go, but it couldn’t be worse than here.”

Nadya and her brother climbed the tree. The texture was odd under hand, untreelike. When they neared the top, she heard a sound. It was the piercing cry of an enormous bird. Nadya was so startled she almost fell as the six-foot bird emerged from the storm clouds. One bird grabbed Nadya, and the other grabbed Vanya. The two birds flew high into the sky, and the children looked down onto the burning forest. Nadya hoped that the birds were kindly disposed to children.


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