"What is the wood stove going to be like?" Asks Baby Firewood to Mama Firewood.
"None of us are really sure, twiglet.” She says while smoothing down Baby's adorable little slivers. "I think it's supposed to be pretty hot, though."
She tucks a loosening bit of bark back around Baby and smiles. "Yes. I think so." She says. "The stove is probably quite a bit like August."
"Papa!" Baby cries with excitement.
"How's my little splinter?" Papa asks as he tumbles in a little breathlessly. "You're a chip off the old block, you are."
"Mama says the stove is like August!" Baby proclaims as if this is the cleverest thing she's ever heard.
"Your mother is a fine piece of lumber, and I dare say that she's right, just like August but without the beetles. Them buggers keep me up all night with their ticklin'. Listen, sprout, hows about going to bed and letting your mother and I talk. That's a good little burl."
"What is it? What's happened?" Mama asks once Baby has hit the stack.
Papa blows out a breath. “The Applewoods on the far side of the shed got into some cider, and they got a bit tipsy."
"How tipsy?" She asks, a tone of worry sharp in her voice.
Papa scratches uncomfortably at the lichen on his chin, "Well, they're not so much a stack anymore as they are a pile."
"Oh, dear! And so soon after the Cedars had their big falling out too. I don't know, Papa. This isn't the shed it used to be."
"I couldn't agree more. The sooner we get into the stove, the better."
"That's what I wanted to talk to you about, Papa. Aren't you at all worried about our trip to the stove this winter?"
"Worried? Cones no! We'll ride the cart to the house, relax in the wood box for the afternoon, hop in the stove in the evening and then - whoosh! Up the chimney. What's to worry about?"
"Oh, I don't know. Baby started asking about it, then I got to wonderin' if fire is really what's best for our family?"
"What other choice do we have? I know that you had your heart set on being a chair one day but…"
"A chaise, Papa! I wanted to be a chaise lounge."
"Ok, a chaise lounge. Honey, you know I think you've got the finest grain in the shed, but you have to be realistic. None of us is going to be a piece of furniture. Heck, Mama, we won't even get pulped into paper. We're Firewood. I come from a long line of Firewood, and I'm proud of that fact. It sure beats rotting away in the backwoods somewhere."
"Oh Papa, I know you're probably right. It's just that I've never been up a chimney before. The highest I've ever been is in the canopy of my family tree."
"Shucks, darlin', you and that sapling, you're the wood of my heart. You know I only want what's best for y'all. Don't you want to see the forest from the sky, Mama? Can't you just imagine the three of us as smoke on the wind, free to go anywhere? Free to go everywhere! Instead of just drying out in this tumble-down shed?"
"You know I'd go anywhere with you, Papa. I guess I'm just scared, is all. It's a big change, turning into smoke. How do I know if we'll be any good at it?"
"We were good at makin' that little stick of kindling, weren't we? We'll be good at this too."
"Oh, Papa. Why do I always feel like I can do anything with you?"
"Come on, darlin'. Let's go make some sparks together!"