When I was six years old, I got in trouble for playing with fire
Not because I burned anything
but because the plumber’s daughter was intimidated into admitting that I was the culprit behind the litter of matchsticks piled in our newly installed, yet-to-be-connected toilet bowl
A few years later, in the bathroom, I decided that instead of cutting a string that hung from my towel, I’d burn it
The spark meandered its way along the strip almost instantly
Quick thinking and countless movies showing people stomping fires out with their feet are the only things that kept the flame from spreading to the shower curtain.
Needless to say,
I’ve always had a fascination with fire.
Maybe it’s the way the flame dances with itself, waltzing around the emptiness,
Or the way the colours melt into each other like ink dripped into a puddle
Or it could be the fact that children are fearless and at seven years old I saw my cousin place a lit match full-flame on his tongue
and so to me, fire might as well have been synonymous with magic
Last week I read that two children died in a fire that started while they were home alone…asleep .
One paper said that the little girl was kneeling in a corner, the walls closing in on her was the last thing she saw aside from
and the colour red
And though she was in the perfect position for prayer,
The last prayer that left her lips went out to a woman who stood a wall away but wasn’t able to save her
Eleven years old
Died a few feet away
-no one reported hearing him cry out
His body was found in a protective position
In my mind, I imagine him hovering over her,
body a shield,
arms, a waning force-field,
I imagine he thought
if I close my eyes tight enough maybe I could block the pain out
maybe if I pray loud enough in my mind then God will hear us
Weren’t the only things that were eaten by flames that day.
When I was eight years old my biggest fear was the dark.
I’m almost 21 now and the only fire that’s ever broken my skin hugs from the inside.
I’m sorry my childhood hero was the one that dug your grave for you…
It must be hard to rest in peace with smoke in your lungs.
you will forever be more superhero than anyone I know.