The only thing the boy remembered from his third grade teacher was the stories of the “fire salamanders.” They lived in the mountain creeks. The next morning the boy woke up before the rising of the sun. He planned to skip school and see these fire salamanders once and for all.
Dawn’s light escorted him in his noble, but wayward errand. He climbed over wooden fences collapsing with rot, scurried across dusty roads, and generally avoided the rumble of any truck. Silent, but deadly. His father had taught him well.
This wasn't the first time he’d tried to catch these fire salamanders. Success had eluded him before. So he changed tactics. He sang church songs to the God of his father, the ones they sang in church. The words were always hard to remember. No one had ever written them down.
He waded through the tall wet grass in a long meadow. Mist covered the ground, fog obscured the tops of the highest peaks in the distance. The morning sun warmed his face and soon, every little step his feet would take. He only needed to make it across this last meadow, then walk below to the small little valley that separated the meadow from the last of the hills. A creek tumbled nearby, and beneath its dark, cool rocks, he imagined the lair of the fire salamander…
The small boy continued to sing. He hoped this pleased the God of his father. When he thought of his father, however, he hoped he wouldn’t be mad. In his small hand he held a kitchen strainer, which he intended to catch a salamander. Maybe only a brief beating would come from his mother's hand.
He arrived at the valley and descended unto a well-worn path. Hunters used the stamped earth and brush to enter the hills and mountains beyond. Large rocks lined both sides of the trail. They glowed in the warm light. The rays of the sun hit his face, he felt good in the warmth, and he looked up into the clear, open sky.
He never saw the snake warming itself on the rock. The singing stopped.