Campfire

Photo Credit: @VladBagacian

Inspired by a writing prompt.


Ramie was cuddled in her bed, cushioned by the thick mattress pad warmed from her body heat. The soft covers were pulled up to her eyes, with just a little space open for her nose to get a bit of fresh air. She was peaceful there in the twilight, until the sound of laughter drifted in to the bedroom from the open windows, gauzy white curtain fluttering in the breeze as if they were laughing along.

She stirred as the laughter grew louder, her brow furrowing. She was almost drifting back asleep when the laughter seemed like it was loud, in her ear. She jolted awake, squinting her dry eyes as she rapidly blinked; they were so dry they hurt. “What the hell?” she sat up quickly when she realized it wasn’t a dream; it was real. “James!” she croaked, looking over at her sleeping husband who was snoring, oblivious to the sounds.

She stuffed her feet in her slippers and looked outside, where the laughter was coming from. Her eyes grew wide as she saw three people sitting on her lawn in front of a tent around an open fire. “What the fu… JAMES!” she yelled it so loud, she was certain the people down there had heard her.

“Huh… wha?” he said, awakened by the alarm in her voice. “What’s going on?”

“There are some fucking people downstairs on our lawn!” Ramie grabbed the nearest robe and put it on as James was starting to get out of bed. “Just hurry up and come down with me!”

“I am!” he put on his slippers and followed her down the stairs, grabbing a jacket from the foyer as they went out the front door.

Ramie wrapped her robe tight around herself as she walked outside, immediately sorry she hadn’t thought to bring a weapon of some kind. Before either Ramie or James could say a word to the unwanted visitors, one of them stepped forward with a huge smile.

“Hello and good morning!” he reached his hand out to shake a hand, but all he got were angry glares. “Would either of you like a cup of coffee?” He poured a steaming cup of coffee from a speckled blue coffee pot into a small tin cup, then handed it to Ramie.

They were both too stunned to speak. “Uh, actually … why not,” Ramie mumbled, taking the cup.

“Honey don’t drink that,” James said, reaching to grab it out of her hand. She pulled it out of his reach.

“Oh I’m sure it’s fine,” she said, taking a sip.

“Well.” James was speechless. He stood there in his jacket, brown slippers and white and navy boxing shorts on his front lawn, warmed by the bonfire some friendly strangers had lit, and having just woke up, it was too much for him to take in. “I don’t even know what to say. What the … fuck?”

“Oh, good morning!” Suddenly an unfamiliar woman’s head popped out of the tent set up on their lawn. “You must be the owners! A pleasure to meet you. Are you enjoying the coffee?”

“Actually,” Ramie said, who was perking up. “It’s quite good.”

“It’s my own special blend of coffee beans,” the woman said, taking a pair of tongs and grabbing a foil wrapped bundle from a grate near the fire. She carefully unwrapped the foil as Ramie and James watched and the smell of cinnamon rolls wafted up.

“Oh,” Ramie was stunned.

“Here,” the woman said, smiling. She grabbed an oddly shaped cinnamon roll and handed it to Ramie. “It’s still pretty hot, so be careful.”

“Is this … an orange?” Ramie said, peeling the skin away from the freshly baked roll and sniffing it.

“Yes, we use hollowed out oranges to bake in,” the woman said, handing one to James, who stepped closer to the fire.

Ramie took a big bite. “It’s delicious,” she said, her mouth full.

“Hey!” Frank, the busy body neighbor from a few houses down, yelled to them from the sidewalk as he walked briskly toward them in the early morning light. “Hey what do you all think you’re doing?” he yelled at them. “This isn’t allowed, you can’t have an open fire out here!”

“Oh, we’re so sorry,” the strange man said. “We’re putting this fire out right now, and we’ll be on our way.” He immediately pulled out a big pitcher of water, dousing the fire.

“Oh,” Frank said, the wind taken out of his grumpy, ancient sails. “Well good,” he said, taken aback by how quickly they were packing things up. “I didn’t want to have to call the police.”

“G’bye, Frank,” James said, eager to get the old man going.

Frank frowned at James and made a huffing sound before turning around and heading back to his house.

“Well we’re so sorry we caused you problems with your neighbors,” the man said, as he and the woman quickly packed up their things and folded up the tent. “We’ll be on our way.”

Before they knew it, they couple had all of their things tucked in bags around the smoldering fire. They slung their bags over their shoulder and walked down the sidewalk, both of them smiling and waving as they left.

“What the fuck?” James shook his head.

They both turned to go back inside when Ramie gasped. “Oh wait, they forgot their cup!” she walked out to flag them down, but they were gone.