Smoke Signals

by Megan Colgan


The fires started during the last act of Lollapalooza. It was 1992 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers played while the field in the back burned. Kids had ripped the wooden perimeter fence and set it ablaze. It was our first concert, only sixteen, two girls loudly screaming words into the thick night while bumping our hips together, unafraid of the wind that could suddenly pick up the flames. Our life force was too strong to be cut down while offering the air the lyrics to our favorite songs.

That was the summer before you moved away to a state in another time zone. We made plans to write letters and to talk on the phone, but our friendship was frenetic and of the moment. We never wrote anything and only called each other once. We let the fire fizzle out and it was okay. Time wore on and we willed ourselves to become women. To become wives and to become mothers.

I remember your face shining that night, your eyes alight as you looked at me while we sang “Give it Away” to the rhythm of the raging fires. I never saw a bright stamp on your forehead that read: Dead at forty-one, ovarian cancer, leaving behind a loving husband and two young girls. There were never any warning signs anywhere.


Megan Colgan received an English degree from the University of New Hampshire and then promptly did nothing with it after graduation. She held a string of office jobs until she had her first kid, a boy, in 2007. Her second kid, a girl, was born in 2012. She is now a stay-at-home mother who is temporarily assisting them in all of their remote learning endeavors. She loves the sound of rain hitting tree branches in the woods and eating lobster rolls in any seaside town in Maine. She currently lives in New Hampshire.


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