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Fire by Claire Gillian (4:14 minutes)
Ugg stretched his long legs out in front of him, parted to make space for the crude offerings he worked to prepare. To his left, he tossed a few twigs to the baby sun god he’d captured. The tiny deity had quite the appetite for vegetation, the drier the better.
He hadn’t told his wife Glerg about his good fortune yet but waited for her to return from her daily visit to the stream for water.
She alerted him to her presence with an ear-piercing scream.
“Ugg! What’s that?” Glerg scurried and hid behind his right flank, close enough to touch him but with her husband fully shielding her from the dancing sun god.
Ugg grinned and said, “This is the infant sun of the great thunder god. I found it in the field today. If I feed it twigs and small leaves, it stays with me and doesn’t try to escape.”
“Get out of town!” she cried as she shifted slightly to get a better look. “Cute little thing isn’t it. Can I touch it?” She looked to Ugg, a question mark on her face.
Ugg grabbed her arm and shook his head. “No. It doesn’t like to be touched. It bites like a wasp if you try.”
“Well, what are you going to do with it. Does it have a name?” Glerg cocked her head from side to side as she peered around him.
“It doesn’t speak, at least not in a way I can understand. I call it Flame.”
“Flame.” She tried the name out for size then shook her head. “No. No pizazz. This is a god, right? The name should be more…” she tapped her finger against her chin, “more reverent. How about Inferno?”
“No. Too long and too hard to pronounce. Plus it doesn’t look like an Inferno to me. What about Blaze?”
“Gods no, that sounds like a porno name.” She winked at Ugg and he winked back. “What about Lick?”
Ugg tilted his head sarcastically. “Lick? Really? Come on. That’s more porno than Blaze.”
“Alright, alright, maybe not Lick or Blaze.” Glerg rolled her eyes.
Ugg snapped his fingers. “I’ve got it. The perfect name. You ready?” Wide-eyed, he looked to Glerg for her encouragement to reveal his bright idea. When she remained silent, he huffed softly then formed his hands into the shape of the bottom half of a square. He held his hands up to form a frame around the baby god and prompted Glerg to gaze through the opening. “I present Fire!”
Glerg sat back on her haunches and looked first at the baby sun god then at her husband. “Fire. Fire. Hmmm. I think I like that. Fire. It’s short and sweet. It has that rich “fffff” sound like the hiss of a saber-toothed cat but ends with gurgly “rrrr” sound, just like in my name. Fire.” Glerg leaned over and kissed Ugg.
“Fire,” Ugg said and nodded.
“Fire,” Glerg repeated as she beamed at her husband. “Now get Fire out of my way so I can clean the cave and make your favorite steak tartar. I found a half-eaten carcass by the stream and it looked too good to let go to waste.”
Ugg grumbled but scooped up Fire and moved it to the outer edge of the cave. “I am so sick of tartar,” he muttered under his breath. “Maybe I’ll let you have my share tonight Fire. Just don’t tell my old lady; it’ll be our little secret.”
Glerg moved to his side with the brush she used to smooth down the floor of their cave. In his ear she whispered, “Do you think it’s a boy or a girl?”
“Definitely a boy!” Ugg motioned with his hand. See how tall he stands? Proud. Powerful. Definitely a male.”
“Mmm, nope. I think Fire’s a female. See how she dances and changes her shape?”
Ugg laughed and said, “Changes her mind a lot. Maybe you’re right. Fire is a female.”
As Ugg and Glerg contemplated the sex of their deity, a giant gust of wind blew past the opening of the cave and snuffed out Fire, leaving nothing but a few billowy tufts of smoke.
Glerg frowned as she watched the smoke rise then dissipate. “No. I think you were right the first time. Must be male. All smoke but no Fire.” She patted a disconsolate Ugg on the shoulder. “Now, let’s eat before the flies come.”