The Fire

anecdote by tali

The center in Oust served as a vacation retreat for children and sometimes lodged people with mental deficiencies. The work consisted in doing simple renovations and maintenance. When I arrived, they fed me and led me downstairs to the dormitory where about twenty volunteers were sleeping on bunk beds. I quietly walked around in the dark searching. The beds were all occupied except one, mine. As I laid down, I perceived a huge lump in the middle of the mattress. “The reason nobody took it,” I told myself, but I was so tired that I slept like a log. The next morning, at a long table with the volunteers for breakfast, a boy asked me if I slept well. “Yes, yes, I slept well” “Ah…you’re not a real princess then. I placed a sledgehammer under your mattress.”

The work came to an end and all the volunteers headed home. But I didn’t want to leave. A Sheppard offered me to stay in a tiny stone house named “Le Sarat” It measured four square meters, had no electricity or running water. These were once used as shelter for when they would bring their animals higher up for summer pasture. Apart from the huge stone barn that would accommodate his sheep just below, this “maisonette” was isolated with no road, on a steep flank of the mountain.

I made some friends and one night over at Abdel’s, we smoked a joint. The first thing it does to me is empty my bowels. With no toilet I quickly went outside and squatted. It was custom to burn the toilet paper but not in winter after a snow melt, on a sunny day when the grass is dry. So I lit. The fire quickly spread to the surrounding grass. I stomped my feet but it quickly got out of control and I screamed, “Help!!” Everyone came out and the first thing I heard was “Merde!!” It was pointless. I ran down to warn the Sheppard. Seeing the fire go up the mountain put me in a state of shock, I ran to my little house and hid . My friends found me later that day and informed me that due to the steepness and dryness of the hill, the fire when up too fast to burn any tress. The fire men waited on the road higher up and put it out. Apart a couple of fences, there was no damage and when they told me that the Sheppard took advantage to put fire to his fields down below it de-dramatized it for me.

One day, on seeing fire on another flank of a mountain the same Sheppard announced “That must me the Canadian who pooed over there.”

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