The Mystery of the Fire (#107)

Think this little fireplace looks cheerful and benevolent? THINK AGAIN...
Think this little fireplace looks cheerful and benevolent? THINK AGAIN…

I’m still on ski vacation, while Andy drove back LA. He’s enjoying some “alone time,” and promised to take down the Christmas tree and decorations before I get home. I’m having a girl’s week with my friend M. She has a timeshare, and we’re using her points for a place up at Cedar Breaks Lodge. (Don’t ask me how timeshares and points work. All I know is that I owe her dinners, lift tickets, massages, and probably my firstborn. )FullSizeRender 3

The condo is very nice – living room, mini-kitchen, spacious bedroom with a view of the snowy forest outside. The bedroom even has a gas fireplace, facing the bed.

The night we arrived, M and I looked at the fireplace, raised our eyebrows, and said, “Oooo, so romantic!” at the same time. The fire wasn’t running. We promptly forgot about it after we had our giggle. M and I agreed that we would share the king-sized bed because we’re too damned old to bother with the pullout sofa in the living room.

Also, M neither snores nor moves as much as my usual bed partner, which is kind of nice. (If you’re reading this, honey, I’m just kidding! Keep working on those ornaments.) I anticipated a good night’s sleep. By the time I took out my contact lenses and was ready for bed, M slept silently on the window side of the bed. The side of the bed next to the door was mine.

Recent studies have shown that the optimal sleeping temperature is 65 degrees Fahrenheit. I like it a little cooler than that. So I turned off the wall heater next to the bed, snuggled under the covers, rolled on my left side, and fell asleep.

I am a light sleeper. An hour-and-a-half after we went to bed, I heard a noise. It sounded like the popping of flames. I opened my eyes and found the room was no longer dark. I am very near-sighted, but even I could make out the threatening orange glow.

Fire was my first thought.

Shit followed.

Fire extinguisher in the kitchen came next, as I rolled out of bed. (Yes, I always check out where the fire extinguisher is when I’m in a new place. You would, too, if you lived with an amazing chef who cooks with abandon.)

I had the bedroom door open before I realized that while there was a fire, it was completely contained by the fireplace.

The gas fire was now on.

What the fuck? I’d been living in LA – land of no fireplaces – for a long time, but last I heard, a person had to physically turn on the gas for those suckers to light.

I shot an accusing look at M. She was still sleeping, still in the same position. I went back to my bedside table, found my glasses, and crept around to her bedside table. Everything these days has a remote. Why not a fireplace?

I did not find a remote. I returned to the cackling fire and checked the mantle. Nothing. I checked the cabinet over the mantle. Nothing but a TV and entertainment system.

I check on either side of the chimney and found a switch. It was in the “off” position.

I flicked it to “on.” A fan whirred to life, blowing the fire’s warmth out into the room. Argh. I flicked it back off.

M slumbered on.

I stared at the demon fireplace, flummoxed. Where the hell was the off switch?

I spent a good ten minutes hunting around the room, looking for a switch.

The fire flickered out.

I decided on a poltergeist, hoped it was benevolent, and went back to bed.

At 2 AM, the fire roared back to life. I woke briefly, cursed the flames, threw off some covers, and went back to sleep.

10 minutes later, I woke to find M putting an extra blanket on me. I growled, “What are you doing? I’m hot enough, thanks to that fucking fireplace!”

M said, “But I thought you turned it on, because you were cold!”

“I didn’t turn it on,” I snarled. “Thing’s got a mind of its own.”

Hot and angry, I got out of bed.

I cased the room again. I didn’t find a switch.

But I did find a thermostat, tucked up behind the chimney. It was set at 70 degrees. I pushed the red setting down to 50 degrees.

The fire died.

I was an idiot.

The thermostat – not a poltergeist looking to thaw – controlled the fireplace.

Fireplaces have apparently evolved since I moved to LA.

M cheered. “Yay! Do you know, when I woke up, I seriously thought there was a fire?”

M grew up in Florida. At least this LA idiot was in good company.

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Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

17 thoughts on “The Mystery of the Fire (#107)”

    1. Well, the outside temperature dropped to -8, I think. But given that we were just one room in a large lodge, I’d be surprised if we went below 60. It never got as cold as I wanted.

  1. o__o; That fireplace would’ve freaked me out. I seriously disapprove of randomly-appearing fires in any abode! The fireplace control seems more high tech than I ever knew existed!

    1. I’ve never seen a thermostat connected to a gas fireplace, but it was straightforward once I figured it out. Though, yeah, witchcraft crossed my mind more than once. Especially at 2 AM. Everything seems plausible at 2 AM.

      Did you have to start a fire with flint, Marta?!

    2. I don’t know if a thermostat connected to a fireplace is more common in lodges in cold places these days — I don’t go to enough cold places! — but it makes me feel better to know that I’m not the only one contemplating a supernatural resolution. It was freaky and frustrating!

  2. Even if there was a switch… I think some sorcery was involved. When I was a kid and we spent the weekends on our countryside house, it was always so hard to start a fire!! And now you say it can be done just by pressing a button?? HERESY!

  3. Hot damn fireplaces are too high tech these days! I can’t believe they’re controlled by thermostat! There should still be a switch that permanently shuts it off though… I feel like it’s kind of a hazard!

    I love fireplaces, especially when you can see snow out your window. I think I’ve only had this rare experience once or twice, but it was a treat.

    Hope you’re still having fun in Utah!

    1. Mary, you’ve got to tell me if you find these fireplaces in Utah! Yeah, it does seem a little hazardous. But it was indeed gorgeous with the snow.

      I am back in LA after a side trip to Vegas. Gotta be home to kiss Andy at midnight. East Coast midnight, that is. 10 bucks says we’re asleep by West Coast midnight. 🙂

  4. hahaha this had me laughing out loud – I can totally imagine the demon fire coming to life and how much that would freak you out at 2am. My favourite part was your friend putting blankets on you because she thought you were cold 🙂

  5. Ahahaha, a poltergeist! This article was so so so funny! (I miss reading your posts… Oh and your theme is no longer white! Or wait, it wasn’t white… Gaah! I can’t even remember. Why didn’t you make it autumn colors? o3o)

    1. Hi, Mei! Nice of you to stop by, and I am glad you liked the eerie post.

      I change the theme periodically to match either the weather or recent posts. Since most of the recent ones took place in Hawaii, I put in a beach background. But now we’re heading into Chinese New Year, and so I’ll head back to red. Thanks for the reminder. Autumn will have to wait for, well, autumn. 🙂

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