A writer with fire in the belly enters our contest: Brian Howard


This is a charming story. Who can read it without remembering their own first lip-lock? Makes me regret you can only enter puberty two or three times. Most of my intros to stories like these are frivolous and superficial. How greater to contrast the sweet and authentic well told story, as this surely is.  A reminder, today is the Ides of March, and all entries for our contest must arrive by carrier pigeon or cyber-shuttle by mid-night tonight. Some have threatened to bribe me to win this coveted contest; I humor them and generally up the ante, but it’s only lip service. Thanks for this entry Brian. And here is

Fire Starter

by B. Howard


It was the summer of 1960 and I was twelve. Visiting my grandparents in rural Seattle meant a three hour road trip from Gig Harbor in our 1957 root beer Buick Special.  My mom drove while my two little brothers and I tested her nerves rough-housing in the back seat. By the time we arrived, we boys couldn’t wait to escape into the country woods and open fields, while I’m sure my mother was happy for the break.

We would run everywhere, hollering at the top of our lungs, finally getting separated and giving me some freedom to explore on my own without my tag-along little brothers. The scattering of old grey outbuildings, barns and sheds sparked my curiosity.  I approached an old weathered barn and entered with anxious trepidation. I was immediately consumed with interest, as my city upbringing rarely allowed me such unique explorations. As I wondered through the massive space, she suddenly appeared from around a dark corner. She had her sights right on me.  She slowly walked towards me and reached for my hand, leading me up a ladder where bales of hay were stacked.

The sweet smell of hay filled my lungs and thin rays of sun bounced off her skin like strands of golden tinsel. She abruptly spun around and kissed me on the lips. She took me by complete surprise, as I had never experienced the desires that would soon be unleashed. Her kiss was soft and sweet, escalating in strength and intensity. I had no experience in the art of kissing, but  instinctively followed her lead, similar to how a bird just knows how to fly. As my young female stalker continued to smother me with her lips, I felt a warm and passionate glow erupt within me. I had been kindled by an internal electrical current that consumed me. We kissed until our bodies became a vibrating furnace. I  wonderfully lost myself in time.  As quickly as she appeared, she said she must go and climbed down the hay loft, running off. I stood in a motionless daze, unable to comprehend what had just happened. My fleeting moment of manhood was abruptly shattered when my little brothers came barreling in with yelps and yells of excitement.

I never knew her name nor saw her again, but my surprise encounter will remain forever. I can still see her long caramel hair, against golden skin, with freckles sprinkled across her face like stardust.

Both of us too young to know any better, barely beginning to bud into adolescence.

She was a lovely fire starter.

I will never forget her…



20 thoughts on “A writer with fire in the belly enters our contest: Brian Howard

  1. Laura G says:

    Lovely story of a chance encounter and gentle nudge into adolescence. Nice imagery and a topic we can probably all relate to. Glad your first kiss at 12 was pleasant and that the stalker did not go overboard : )

    • Thornton Sully says:

      So glad to see you commenting on other stories, Tracy. And here is a heads up for you and others in SoCal: I am planning a writer’s reunion/ event Fore Saturday, June 11th. Our last get-together put together 80 writers and friends at the Hacienda of Victor Villasenor in Oceanside. Not sure if we will have the same venue, but it will be in the vicinity. We will put the info out on our newsletter as the date approaches, and details regarding the event (a theme? pot-luck? one act play? live music? celebrity guest? who knows?)This could become an annual summer event. Hope you make it this time.

  2. Miryam says:

    Mr. B,
    You are such a romantic….
    Whomever this girl was, she was lucky…. although I have your lips now and forever!!

  3. Diane Cresswell says:

    You certainly did build up the fire Brian. The prelude to what waits for one who will be testing the waters of love’s lure. Very well done.

  4. Michael Stang says:

    Had me at “root beer Buick Special,” and the Americana through the tale. Great to read your lovely talent once more.

  5. Thornton Sully says:

    It is hard for me to separate the writer from the man. I know Brian: one of the few who gives religion and faith a good name. Brian does not (that I know of) aspire to be great author, but perhaps that explains why this story is so engaging: no pretense, just a simple (but simplistic) rendering of one of life’s rights of passage, that differs for all of us, as Laura suggested. Maybe we need a contest “First Kiss”? Hope to see you at the June reunion, my friend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.