There was no fire in the fireplace. Just a cold draft came into the room from the open flue. The wind stirred old ashes ’round and made a tunnel like noise, but, no fire.
Wood was stacked neatly on the racks and bundled up newspapers lay under the hickory and cherry wood. Nobody lit a match to it. People just looked at it and imagined. They dreamt that a fire was blazing; wearing shawls and quilts there in the living room.
Outside it was spitting snow. A tomcat cried ‘cross the street. Two flags flew on a pole next door. One said, “Don’t Tread On Me,” while the one on top was the flag of the United States of America; waving in the breeze.
The sun was going down and the dark hours would soon arrive. Some would stay in the front room and look at the fireplace, pictures on the walls, in total silence. Just sit there quietly. Wondering. Thinking about what warmth would be like. It had been so long since there was warmth. All they did was feel cold all the time; numb.
And they sat there. No one looked at others. There was no fire in the fireplace. Hadn’t been for a long, long time.