Ashes to Ashes. Dust to Lust.

Submitted into Contest #50 in response to: Write a story about a proposal. ... view prompt



Ah, the fire. The fire was the blasting cap to my marriage (I shall get to that a little bit later). I met her at a party in Doha, Qatar, and we became fast friends. We had texted each other, as we all do these days. A week later we met once at my apartment. I made her supper (I’m a great cook; writing a cookbook now) and we watched a movie on my LCD video projector. It’s like being in a small theatre all alone. I already owned it, but was trying to impress her.

Our romance grew, and we started seeing more of each other. Talking every day, texts, and going out for suppers. We both were educators, so we had a lot in common. I taught college, and she taught grade school. We both studied English literacy and etymology for fun and would talk about word origins for hours. Yes, I understand that may seem boring, but it is a great problem-solving exercise to hone your mental acuity. There is nothing wrong with learning for fun. We subsequently flew to Paris, France, and Kingston, Ontario, to study with two of the best English linguists in the world. Yes, we are nerds. But I digress.

Now to get to the meat of the story. We had been together for a few months and I was living at her apartment even though I had my own (the company pays for it over there). I had just brought over a bunch of clothes to stay for a few days and left them on the dining room table in a bag. I had stopped at our favorite Thai restaurant to purchase some food. She had lit candles to create a ‘mood’ when I came back with the food. It looked nice, but looking back, my clothes should not have been on the table with the candles. We decided to dine al fresco on the roof so we climbed up there and set up our food. Great food and a couple of glasses of wine. Then there was that smell. It is quite unmistakable. It was smoke. We turned and saw the black plume rising from the side of the building. 

She instantly knew it was her apartment and ran down the two flights (it was a 12 story building) and I jumped up to catch her. The outer door of her apartment was closed, but not locked, so she opened it and a ton of billowed out black smoke. The candles had caught all my clothes on fire and started to burn the table that they were on. She ran in and I couldn’t see her. Now, a backstory, I’m a trained sea captain and firefighter at sea. I know the dangers of smoke. You’re usually passed out in 10 seconds. Never run into a fire unless you have a secure way out, just an FYI. I’ve been in those situations before. But since this was the woman I loved, I ran in and grabbed her and got her down the hall. She was disoriented, but okay. I got her to the stairwell and went back and flipped the burning table over and put out the fire. Yes, I lost all my clothes and wallet, but didn’t lose my girl.

So against our better judgment, we cleaned up the mess and tried to right everything. The three air conditioners in her living room had melted (it’s the desert, I had twelve in my apartment). Once we finished cleaning up, we just sat on the balcony and chilled. Our feet were black with soot, but we were just happy to be alive. Ten more seconds in the fire before I dragged her out she would have been dead.

Yes, I know that is a lot of backstory and some may not want to read it. Fine. But the next day, I got down on two knees and proposed to her. I did it on two knees instead of one to let her know I was giving myself to her. She said yes! We hugged and shed tears and were stronger than ever. We had beat a potentially fatal situation and survived. I didn’t ask her out of guilt, or being scared, I did It because I loved her. Stressful situations make people do strange things, but I knew I wanted to marry her before the fire.

I didn’t have a ring. Since we had been through so much we drove to the mall the next day. Now, when I say mall, Doha’s malls are elaborate. High-end stuff. So we went to Bvlgari to get my favorite ring; the B. Zero. We got matching ones, although mine is a 5 ring and hers is a one ring (if there are any fans out there you'd know what I'm talking about). Since we lived in Doha we couldn’t get married there, it’s against the law so we had to wait until we got back to North America. She’s a United States citizen, and I am a Canadian citizen. So we waited until the school's summer break started and flew back, albeit on different flights because my semester was longer than hers. She flew back to Spokane, Washington, and the day before the wedding I arrived in Toronto, Ontario. I got picked up at the airport to go get my Lincoln that was in storage for a few years while I was teaching abroad, and then the whole family flew into Niagara for the wedding. We were married outside under the Comfort Maple, the oldest maple tree in Canada. It was great; save for the wind.

Now I must say my marriage ended after 7 years. But we have an amazingly smart daughter and isn't that all that matters? I don't feel you need an elaborate proposal, as long as it has come from the heart. The other person will know it. If you love them, and they love you, it is a no brainer. I wish anyone who chose to read this can remember that love can be born out of ashes.

July 13, 2020 07:17

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


01:27 Jul 23, 2020

Ah! I loved the title. Hope this isn't a true story. Though it isn't a fairy-tale ending, you still made it sound positive. I could relate to the places you mentioned in the story and conjure up images (Ahem! I'm the daughter of a globe trotter!) The narrative is smooth and simple. I like the Protagonist. He's a person who seems to look at the positive side of everything. (A daughter despite the broken marriage). Well-written! :)


Eric Deitch
19:17 Jul 23, 2020

Hey, thanks for the feedback. Yes, this is a true story. I will never write anything that isn't true (save for my fiction books). I thank you for your response and I shall read a story from you. Best regards, Eric


Show 0 replies
Eric Deitch
02:40 Oct 29, 2020

This a true story. I am a trained firefighter at sea from the Irish Sea Fisheries Board and have saved many lives in real life. I am a marine biologist who travels the world trying to help conserve wildlife and ecosystems. I, in fact, saved the same person from drowning before the fire happened. I guess I am either at the right spot at the right time or just bring chaos. :P I love my daughter who is a complete doppelganger of me (except cuter) and I teach her science as much as I can (two degrees and Ivy League schools). I have been to 47 co...


04:17 Dec 20, 2020

Hey there! Sorry, I was tied up with other commitments and inactive for a while in reeday. Glad to read your comment. Though I've been to many countries; developed, developing and remote, my favourite will always be my roots, where I come from and where I feel, I belong. It's a small village named Kattugudaloor (may not even show on the map) a few kilometres away from the famous South Indian temple town; Chidambaram. Where's your favourite?


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 2 replies
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.