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Controlled Burn

Controlled Burn

The fire chief had a side-hustle plowing snow. Years of middle-of-the-night emergencies discomfited him, but obsessing over weather forecasts extinguished the unpredictability. He preferred plowing in silence, aside from the blade’s planing. Most days it whistled pushing fresh powder, but on nights his wife didn’t come home, he’d plunge the blade, screaming as it scarred asphalt. Some nights could be especially treacherous, the kind where chimney fires erupt amid thundersnow. He never heard the call or the sirens, but driving by the caution tape and burning embers of a distant neighbor, there was no mistaking the silhouette of her car.

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