by Sandra McDonald.
Read by David O. Engelstad.
“I present to you the academy’s 150th class of brave, skilled, hard-working probationary firefighters!” Chief Kelly finally said.
Steven barely heard the applause and cheers when his turn came to cross the stage. His hand was clammy as he shook hands with his teachers, the school administrators, and Chief Kelly. He knew he was blushing and grinning like a fool. Some days, back in the desert, he’d figured to be dead by dusk. Now he was a fireman like his dad, and both his grandfathers, and all the other Goodwin men whose pictures hung in the fire museum gallery.
At the far end of the stage, the phoenix peered down at him with wide black eyes. He could see himself in those eyes, twin reflections of his black and gold uniform. She lifted her whitish-gray beak and passed a scroll off to Chief Kelly, who pressed it into Steven’s hand.
“Good luck, son,” Kelly said.
Steven waited until he was off the stage before he unrolled his assignment.
Rated R. for fiery language.