Gathered By The Fire

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What secrets were swept up with the debris from the amusement park fire, and how did those secrets shape the future of a community and the children that rose from its ashes? C.B., Johnson, Willy, Ricky, and Goofball had been best of friends since they were seven years old. Twelve years into that friendship, they had been through good and bad times, always looking out for one another. But as emerging adults, they began to head in different directions and drift apart until becoming entangled in a six-degrees-of-separation-like set of circumstances that forced them out of their comfort zones and into making adult decisions. Edmund Fistler had been a man of integrity most of his life until he met Carl Cartwright. The two of them shared a secret for more than twenty years, one that threatened the notion that the growth of once tiny Vista Shores was owed to the natural order of things, a secret they hoped to carry to the grave until a veteran local news reporter rekindled an old story, and a woman from their past resurfaced with a story of her own. Gathered by the Fire is a coming-of-age/coming to terms story that exposes the character flaws developed by adults and begs for hope with the succeeding generation.

Drama / Romance
Mark Mijuskovic
5.0 5 reviews
Age Rating:


(Vista Shores, Michigan, March 4, 1954) If the remnants were any indication, it must have been spectacular. The horses weren’t spared; they were trapped in the big storage shed that could keep out the ravages of weather but not the fury of the fire. The walls burned away, replaced by walls of flame, and the horses would be ridden no more. And the music that moved them would play no more. The Ferris wheel resembled a slowly spinning pinwheel ablaze until it groaned, strayed from its course, spun off-kilter, and crashed to the ground where the inferno raced around it in a game of roulette. The Tilt-a-Whirl had its paint peeled and its vinyl cushions ignited. The clown’s face that had looked over the ride for decades began to melt in a final lament, painted paper tears dropping, ashes scattering. Wooden concession barracks fizzed out of existence like the folly of an ignited matchbook. Saved for last in death as it had been in life, the roller coaster took the conflagration along its serpentine path until its support structures tumbled like houses of cards.

The wind and the fire had competed to see which played the loudest, and in so doing spread their roaring sounds throughout the park until they came across propane. The explosions were magnificent, shaking enough windows to cause sleepy faces to appear in them and witness the orange glow off the icy lake’s mirror, reflecting beauty in the midst of disaster. This was the Big Bang for tiny, humble, and simple Vista Shores. It created new life where none had been before and kept the secrets of its universe carefully tucked away.

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