Underneath the Bonfire

A Story

by Nickolas Butler
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Good story.

It was a great story. I'd like it even if I wasn't related to Nick.

The imagery made the reader a part of the setting. On the other hand, the relationship aspect seemed intentionally vague.

A beautifully written story.

Beautifully done, but perhaps it's age that prevents me from grasping which of three interpretations I sense for Kat's departure. I'm glad I lived in Minnesota for three years and thus could "get" the setting with its threat and attraction for these two.

I loved the sparseness of the style and yet at the same time it was a story chock full of detail. I was terrified when reading the section where Kat felt she had been abandoned under the ice. I thought maybe he was trying to help her understand how isolated he felt coming back from Afghanistan, but now I no longer think that is the case, since he claimed she wasn't untethered during the whole underwater sojourn. A great story with so much emotion lurking deep under the surface just as Kat and Pieter were under the ice. I can see why it won first place.

I am reading the last few years' winners and runner ups to see which of my stories would have the best chance this year and I was really impressed with this story in particular. I felt totally immersed in the world and I got just enough of the characters to feel for them. The situation pulled me in and most important of all I kept wanting to know what happens next. Thank you for a great read and for helping me realize I might do best to keep at it another year before I send my work against tales of this caliber.


Excellent story. It is easy to see why it is a contest winner. My son and I read it and enjoyed the emotions it brings forth and the discussion it produced.

Pieter wanted to feel something, anything, even if it meant leaving her down in the cold and dark alone, or letting her believe she was. I wonder if he felt good about what he was doing, or if he felt anything. Perhaps Pieter went back for her in order to suck up her fear, to see how that would affect him. But she seemed to be as dead inside as he was--until, that is, the last line or two of the story.