Below, you will find a fictional dialogue between Justin and Justina, two unusual-yet-similarly-named friends. In this edition, Justina is a bit scarred by a small cooking incident. Justin is there to reassure her with a poem from the March 11, 1899 edition of The Girl’s Own Paper titled “Catching Fire,” which explains what to do if your clothes catch fire. Somehow, I fear that Justin may be something less than reassuring. But, as always, there is only one way to find out. Let us get to their conversation on Element messenger – which is not a sponsor of The New Leaf Journal.

Act I 〜 The Cooking Accident

Justina: I’m so traumatized right now!
Justin: What happened!? Did you see a rotting pumpkin? I saw a totally collapsed one that had been put out for Halloween. It’s March, Pumpkin-Taker!
Justina: I hate you.
Justin: Alright, what happened?
Justina: I was taking the oatmeal off the stove, right? And I was using a towel so I didn’t burn my hand.
Justin: I follow.
Justina: But I forgot to turn off the burner first.
Justin: Uh oh.
Justina: And the towel got caught on the burner, caught fire on the edge.
Justin: What happened next?
Justina: I quickly put the pot down and threw the towel in the sink.
Justin: Without spilling? You may have a gift.
Justina: Then I turned the water on.
Justin: And this wasn’t special water-resistant fire?
Justina: No.
Justin: And you ate your oatmeal?
Justina: Yeah.
Justin: So why are you scared?

"The Little Cooks" - illustration from "Sugar and Spice: Comical Tales Comically Dressed" by James Johnson
How Justin imagines Justina in the kitchen – clipped from “Sugar and Spice – Comical Tales Comically Dressed” by James Johnson

Act II 〜 Lasting Trauma

Justina: Well the towel was on fire.
Justin: So I hear.
Justina: My whole place could have burned down.
Justin: I suppose that’s possible in theory. But did your place burn down?
Justina: No.
Justin: It sounds like you handled the situation well.
Justina: You don’t understand.
Justin: I don’t?
Justina: Right.
Justin: What don’t I understand?
Justina: Well, like, I could have caught fire.
Justin: I suppose that’s possible. But you didn’t catch fire, right?
Justina: Right.
Justin: It sounds like you handled the situation correctly and did well to not catch fire.
Justina: You don’t understand.
Justin: I don’t?
Justina: Right.
Justin: What don’t I understand?
Justina: How can I ever cook again when I came that close to catching fire and becoming a Justina-kebab?

Act III 〜 A Poetic Guidebook on Catching Fire

Justin: Well you know, catching fire isn’t the end of the world.
Justina: You agree that I’m going to catch fire!
Justin: I was reading this magazine that Nick linked to the other day – The Girl’s Own Paper. Forget-me-not flower poem, good stuff. I found something in there that may help you.
Justina: …
Justin: Just trust me, just trust me. Ok, the poem goes like this.

“Catching Fire.” – A Poem From “The Girl’s Own Paper” (3/11/1899)

If your clothing catches fire
     Do not rush about for aid,
Simply roll on a mat or mire
     And a fearful death evade.

-Girl's Own Paper (3/11/1899)

Act III 〜 Resumes

Justina: …That’s just “stop, drop, and roll.”
Justin: See? Just throw yourself on a mat or mire and roll around. You won’t die. Ancient wisdom.
Justina: Are you saying that my place is a mire?
Justin: I think I’m in a mire.
Justina: And you wouldn’t help me? I see how it is.
Justin: Well I wouldn’t be there if you were cooking alone. And if I was there, you probably wouldn’t be cooking.
Justina: Maybe I just won’t wear clothes when I cook.
Justin: What could go wrong?
Justina: Some hero you are.
Justin: I take offense. I saved your life once.
Justina: Yeah yeah.
Justin: Say, you want to know how to survive a train wreck?
Justina: Isn’t that what I’m doing right now?
Justin: Got it. Here’s another poem.

“Railway Collision.” – A Poem From “The Girl’s Own Paper” (3/11/1899)

If a railway collision you fear,
     Jump on the seat of the carriage, for so
Your legs of calamity may be quite clear,
     And the spring that's in wood may all safety bestow.

-Girl's Own Paper (3/11/1899)

Act III 〜 Resumes For One Last Time

Justina: I’d still die! Now I’m never taking a train again.
Justin: Just as well. Walking is better for you.
Justina: You’re exhausting. I’m going to make hot chocolate and watch TV.
Justin: How are you making hot chocolate?
Justina: What do you mean? Like I always do. On the stove.
Justin: I think I need an evening walk.
Justina: Huh?