Underneath the Bonfire

They were dragging the Christmas trees across the frozen lake, a trail of needles behind them, the crowns of the trees down against the ice, snow, and slush where once the little trees had supported a brightly lit star, or an angel. They carried the trees by their stumps. Most of the trees had stopped drinking, the needles beginning to dot the carpeting; wrapped in lights and ornaments, they were no longer merry but combustible. Potential arrows of flame. The tradition was to burn them, out on the frozen lake, on the first night of January. Kat watched them, coming from shore, the trees making a low, steady scratching sound. Her boyfriend, Pieter, hunched over a chainsaw, checking its fluids, a can of gasoline beside his knee.

“It’s kind of sad,” she said, rubbing her arms, “to end this way. Every year. Just to be burned. What was the point of it all?”

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