Sunday Photo Fiction: Smokey Bears

Smokey Bears

We’re thirteen years old and about to smoke pot for the first time. We’re at my house because the woods in my backyard stretch for acres, uninterrupted. The same woods where we learned how to build a campfire in Cub Scouts all those years ago.

“Good deal,” I say, not at all sure if it really is.

“Yeah,” says Mark, nodding knowingly.

Alan’s chest is inflated, proud. His older brother charged us ten dollars each for the joint.

“Definitely,” he says. “He even rolled it for us!”

Alan places it delicately between two fingers and holds it out to me. I light a match from the set I got at the Italian restaurant downtown. I hesitate and the fire goes out.

“Which end do I burn?”

They both laugh, but no one answers my question.

“Choose one. They’re the same, I think,” Mark says.

I light another match with nervous hands, try again.

I worry someone might catch us—my parents or, impossibly, Scoutmaster David. I think of those stuffed plush Smokey Bears he gave us to commemorate our fire safety training, the way we hugged them like girls instead of fearsome woodsmen. Then: a forest fire between my fingertips.


This is a submission to Sunday Photo Fiction, a weekly challenge where writers post a story in 200 words or fewer in response to a photo prompt, shown above.

I realize today is not a Sunday, which is when I normally like to post these exercises. Thanks for bearing with me (bad pun intended).

14 thoughts on “Sunday Photo Fiction: Smokey Bears

  1. I love how you convey their uncertainty, that they’re all struggling to balance the desire to look like they know what they’re doing with the fact that they have no idea. Great work 🙂


  2. “His older brother charged us ten dollars each for the joint.” – He ripped you guys off! I’m sorry I just had to get that out of the way. This short story was really good! Came here from the community pool.


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