The inspiration behind “Burn” (Of Stars and Space)

With the publication of my collection of stories, Of Stars and Space, this is part 3 in a series of posts about the inspiration behind each of the twelve stories.

Several years ago, an online magazine ran a lengthy story, filled with pictures, of the Burning Man festival. Going to such a festival would not be my thing, but the story and images captured my imagination. I tried several times and failed to take those images and turn them into a story about a trip to Burning Man.

Around the same time, I had a doctor misdiagnose me with a symptom linked to quite a few serious neurological disorders. It is never fun to have such a fright, but I was able to link one of those disorders with the Burning Man story.

What developed from that was not a story about a trip to Burning Man, though such is a side piece to the narrative. Rather, came a story of a young man with a clock ticking faster than most of us experience. It is a story of finding purpose and love, and holding onto faith in the face of death.

It is at the same time a tragedy and a triumph, a reminder to let our lives burn bright, no matter the hand we’re dealt or the years we’re given.

You can read an excerpt of “Burn” below.

Of Stars and Space (and other stories) is available at Amazon in both Kindle and print formats. Kindle is immediate delivery; print is print-on-demand and may take a few days before the order ships.

“Burn” and Of Stars and Space, © 2020, Michael Bergman

Excerpt from “Burn”

The previous summer, after his freshman year, Jackson journeyed to Nevada with college friends. For a week they lived on the salt flats with thousands of others, giving and receiving, dancing and sharing, all waiting for that final night where the statue in the middle crumbled to ashes in the flames. Burning Man, they called it. Listening to his stories, I wanted to go. But I was seventeen and dad said no.

I would have to wait. Then Jackson suggested, “We can do our own.”

With the fire dying, I collapsed onto the blanket and wiped my face. Somehow, I managed to crawl into my sleeping bag. I folded my hands behind my head and stared at the sky. Miles from the nearest city and the air crisp and clear, the Milky Way stretched in its long, bright band.

That’s how I fell asleep. One of my favorite memories.

And if you’re reading this, then I’m dead.

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