Shattered Dreams, Chapter 1: Dream to Fly

3

Spending any more time in the World of the Living would be dangerous for me. My room would come to swallow me whole if I ever neglected my duties. It’s already done so once. It wasn’t that my room had any ill will for humans. Nor did it hate me. But if I found myself too attached to the humans I served, I could harm them. Divines and humans are never meant to be together. My room, who in of itself is a divine, knew that very well.

            “What do you usually do?”Lily asked as she walked with me to the festival. She told her sister that she would be exploring the festival with me and so I met her where the festivities congregated. After we came back to town, she went on her own way. Her eyes were steadfast, and her gait lulled in the slight winds. I got her to talk about her shattered dream. She wanted to meet her parents again, that was her dream to fly. But as it was, she knew that she could never meet them. One of them was already gone. Dreams could shatter at the drop of a hat. Some may not even realize that their dreams had shattered. Thinking of it like that made me want to protect them.  And so I talked to humans, to make sure that they knew, and that they were going to be fine. It was my hobby.

“I usually just talk to people,” I answered. Lily was wearing a white summer dress for the festival. Her hair was tied, and her steps were fluttering. Her voice rang clear in the air.

“You talk to people?” I nodded.

“It’s nothing special, but that’s what I usually do. Probably nothing like a day in your life.” Her smile beamed in the dark of night. The town was filled with artificial lights that breeched outer space. Bodies of other children and parents scuffled by us. Some wore masks. Sounds of sales and laughter cried with the sharp winds that came against our faces.

“In the mornings I go to school. Except today! Today is a special day. We never go to schools on the spring-time festival.” She was spinning in circles, her dress and hair following her in a ring.  Fried food wafted through the slow winds that brushed against us.

“And what about on days that aren’t today?” She held her hands behind her back, as she lightly skipped with her steps.

“After school, I would go home and wait for my sister. We play together until I get tired. But sometimes my sister can’t play with me. Then I have to play by myself.” Although the lights were gleaning in from all around us, I couldn’t help but keep my eyes on Lily. As she jittered between the glow of the festival and the shadow of the town, she hummed. The song she hummed was sweet and fell onto the noise of the town in a blanket.

“I think it’d be more fun if you were out here. Children shouldn’t be cooped up. They should frolicking in the sun.” I smiled for her. She smiled back.

“But I love my sister. I have to be with her or else she’ll fly.” Like a switch, her attention shifted to a stand selling candy apples. She ruffled in her dress and produced coins to buy two. The man smiled as he handed them to her. She ran up to give me one.

“For being my friend!” I smiled and let out a breath.

“I’m not sure we’re quite friends, but thank you.” However, I couldn’t taste. And so I ate in respect to being human.  The crowd began to congregate as chatter combed together into a cacophony.  I made sure that my eyes were locked onto Lily as we pushed through shoulders and watched our feet.

“It’s here!” The crowd dispersed into two lines on either side of the road. Coming from the slope was a parade of platform bearers. They were an assortment of men and women who chanted in march. The wood that was laced together by red string didn’t falter once. They held a statue of a woman leaning down with her hands clasped in prayer. Her hair was intricately laced together. Her dress flowed with life and her face was in solemn focus. The streets boomed for the arrival of the Valley Maiden. I looked down at Lily. Her mouth couldn’t close and her eyes glinted in the short bursts of light that peeked through shoulders.

“It’s quite amazing. I can’t believe the level of detail on her. This town must really love the Valley Maiden.” I meant that honestly.

“My sister said they reuse the same statue every year. But they polish it down to make it look new. If anything is chipped or worn, they spend hours just making sure that it doesn’t seem old to the Valley Maiden.” Shoulders bumped occasionally, though Lily shifted out of the way in succession.

“I’m sure that wherever she is, she’s happy.” I smiled for her.

“I’m sure mother and father is thinking about the Valley Maiden as well. I know they are.” Her eyes wandered from the Valley Maiden and back to the stalls lining the streets. She took the last bite of her candy apply, and smiled from one end of her face to the other.

As the statue bearers came by us Lily couldn’t help but to wave and jump for the stars. Her noise bled into outer space. We soon begun back to the festival. The night seemed like it would last forever. Though eventually I noticed Lily’s eyes struggling to keep their light.

“This festival was really fun Lily. I never expected to see so much energy after this morning. Though I guess that’s just how the law of the world worked.” I smiled for her though she only tilted her head in response.

“Just my own rambling,” I added with a breath.

“Either way, this has been a fun day.” We walked to a point where the crowds thinned. The lights behind us washed over our backs, and the noise simmered into a light whisper of the wind.

“You have to go meet other people now?” I smiled. I was surprised my room didn’t come to get me. Though even if I had found some interest in Lily I had no intention of staying with her.

“Right. If I don’t go to many places, I’ll never meet many people. It’s just like flying.” Her eyes lowered.

“Even though flying is scary?” Her voice was light.

“It’s not as scary once you’re in the air. As long as you remember to land,” I shrugged and smiled for her.

“I had fun too.” She smiled with all she had as she leaned on me. The night’s draft came rushing onto our faces. Her hair ruffled on my sides. Her breathing slowed.

“Where are you going next?” She asked as she looked up towards me.

“Wherever my wings take me.” Lily led me back to her home where the lights no longer followed us. The crowds of people died, and the darkness became our closest comfort.

“What do you think you want to do when you grow up?” I asked. The words came out of my mouth before I could realize I had said anything. She scrounged her face to think. It wasn’t that I was trying to help them cope or understand their tribulations, but that was how it usually ended. And with that, I accept their company and knowledge as my reward. That was all I could ever hope for.

“If you asked me, I’d think I’d just want to sit around and watch the world around me move. ” It was the first thing that came to mind. Though I smiled thinking of a world that allowed me to just drift in nonchalance.

“I’d be able to not worry about a single thing as everything else raced by me. Even if I’d be left in the past, I’d be happy.”

“Isn’t that really sad?” She skipped on the street and landed in front of her door. A single bulb protruding, alighting the silver handle.

“Sad or not, that’s just how I feel. It’s just like you with flying. If you feel it’s scary, then it’s scary, but that’s fine.” She nodded, her eyes lighting up.

“But it’s really good to have something like that anyway. That’s what my sister told me. I remember now.” She turned as she entered the light of her door. I walked towards her, mimicking her skip. I almost fell.

“Now I really want to see how you fly Summer!” I ruffled her hair. I began to wonder as I held onto Lily what it would have been like if I was human. I would lose my knowledge of the divine and of the shattered dreams. I would be like everyone else, living their lives unknowing of the power that I held. As I stopped, Lilly looked up, a yawn emerging.

“Summer,” she said under her breath. Her pulse softened.

“Summer,” she repeated again.

“Summer–” Like a switch she beamed and opened her eyes.

“What is it?” I said with a laugh.

“If I had a list of all the things I liked. I would put Summer on it!”

“Where did this come from?” I said with a chuckle. She broke free from my grasp and  ran behind me, back into the dark.

“The season of summer. And Summer. And my mother, and my father, and my sister.”

“Even though I just met you?”

“You don’t want to be on my list?” She pouted, and crossed her arms. I laughed genuinely.

“It seems I don’t have a choice.” She smiled with her teeth as she glided back to her door. She brought her hand into her dress and produced a key. She struggled for a moment before dropping the key and laughing. As she opened the door she turned and waved.

“When I grow up I’ll go and meet my parents with my sister. I know I can’t go now. I know it’ll be hard if I force my sister to bring me. I don’t want to cause them any trouble. So I’ll wait, and I’ll see them when I can fly properly.” I nodded and smiled.

Just as her door closed, I could hear her feet tapping away. I made sure that no one was watching though I knew I didn’t need to, and then opened the door to Lily’s home.  I then stepped forward into my room. I adjusted my eyes to the white that threatened to blind me. I stepped over to my desk, where I emptied the jar I had into my bank of shattered dreams. Upon touching all the other dreams, the marbles began to twinkle. Even if I tried hard to remember her dream and the things she told me I was sure that the next day and the coming week would bring me even more. And so I silently gave her my earliest condolences. That was all that I could ever do for the humans that kept me company as I collected shattered dreams. I hoped they would never remember me.

Next Chapter

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Shattered Dreams, Chapter 1: Dream to Fly

2

I followed Lily down onto the slope before finally stopping at the end of the long-winded sidewalk. The town opened to a dearth of life despite the festive decoration on the homes.

“Seems like something’s up.” I asked Lily. She had gotten tired of skipping and was now briskly walking as she scanned her eyes over each home.

“You don’t know?”

“I’m not from around here. I got into town recently, haven’t learned much.”All the homes were draped with lights. Coils of wire wrapped around the streetlights, encasing it in silver. Scraps of wood and nails littered lawns. Some doors were strewn open, with an occasion peek from those carrying hardwood and hammers. It was as if they were heralding the arrival of some kind of mythical beast. Though it wasn’t that there were any known humans that did worship divines. And even if they did, I wouldn’t interfere in the affairs of the humans. I was only here to collect shattered dreams.

“The spring-time festival is happening this year again!” Lily splayed her arms out. Her energy bled into her smile. Her eyes still avoided mine, though she tried her best. The winds helped keep her chin up.

“Doesn’t sound like any holiday I know.” Lily nodded and hummed slightly with her steps. Distant chatter began to fill the air between us.

“It’s a tradition in our town.” She smiled with her eyes as she tethered. The clouds had all ran, leaving the sun to bathe us in a slow warmth.

“Everyone looks forward to it every year. It’s our own little Christmas.” I smiled. She responded with her own. As her steps grew, she began fluttering around me. Her hair twirled around her body, wrapping around her waist. When she stopped, her hair uncurled, blowing in the short of the gust that followed. The sound of crashing wood resounded in the air.

“This part of town is where we hold the Valley Maiden. She’s going to sit on a stage and we’ll carry her down into the main part of town.”

“Valley Maiden?” Other children ran about in their lawns with ornate red and blue dresses half on. Their parents ran after them.

“My mother used to tell me all about it! It was–” Lily scrunched her mouth and her eyes narrowed in focus. She stopped dead with a blank stare. Her arms crossed gradually. Just as I was about to speak, her face lit up and she looked up at me with a glint in her eyes.

“The spring-time festival is when we hold the Valley Maiden and bring her across town.” She started in a recital. “The Valley Maiden is supposed to bring us a great year of rain. She’s like a god to us, and we celebrate by giving her a front row seat to our town! We try our best to please the Valley Maiden with the spring-time festival.” As she finished her mechanical speech, she let out a smile. The town grew full as we continued to the ends of the sidewalk. People were rushing on by with heavy hands. Their heavy steps rung in the air. Wafts of sweat twirled around us. A man smoked at his porch, a cold yellow beverage lowering into his mouth. Though none had stopped to peer at us. Some even glared away.

“The Valley Maiden is sometimes played by one of the girls in the town, but we didn’t have any candidates this year, so we’re bringing out the statue again. At least, that’s what my sister said. I haven’t seen anything other than the statue.” Her steps were elastic. I couldn’t count her rhythm.

“What a forgiving maiden she is if she’s that lax on rules.”

“I’m sure she’ll love the statue! It’s really nice this year too!” Cheers ran in the air as a group of people hoisted up a sign onto a booth.

“Must be lucky having such a benevolent maiden on your side.” I smiled for her.

“But she wasn’t always on our side.” Her voice rung in the air. She stopped to watch a man hanging lights over his roof.

“My mother said that this town used to be quieter. She said that this place was full of trees, a forest.”

“That’s how most places used to be before we came around.” I knew only so much of human history, though it seemed to be enough.

“We used to live in a valley! Or at least, the people before us.” Her expression gloomed for a moment. Her eyes wandered to the man’s yard. The grass danced for us. It’s dew glistening from a morning’s shower.

“One day in the valley, all life was beginning to dry. So everyone had to move out. But the Valley Maiden came down one day and brought rain. It took her three days and three nights before everyone came back to the valley.”

“Sounds like an old legend. Maybe a folktale.” We were drenched in shadow for a moment as we passed by a sidewalk filled with trees.

“My mother said that her mother told her the same story. My teachers always tell it to me around this time too. But no one can tell it like my mother!” She brought her arms out and began gliding in the soft winds.

“And is your family doing anything for this festival? From the sounds of it you guys should be ripe in the middle of this.” My words glided in the wind. And I knew they caught up to her. Though the only thing she did was smile.

“Our family isn’t doing anything this year,” she settled as she skipped alternating feet. I knew what her shattered dream consisted of. Though I at least had enough tact to try and get her to open up first. And if it came to be that I caused her more pain, then I would leave. I hadn’t the slightest interest in harming humans. I just wanted to talk.

“Family trouble?” I smiled lightly for her. In the end, how I talked to humans was something beyond what I understood.

“No trouble here!” Her voice chirped in a laugh.

“But we can’t do anything because we aren’t all here. It won’t be fun if the two of us are preparing for the festival.” The sidewalk eventually led to a crossroads. The path to our sides looped back onto the main path the Valley-Maiden would take. Lily stopped here. Rows of homes void of decorations laid on the looped-paths. If we continued to walk forward, we would be heading elsewhere all together. Lily took in a breath, found the nearest rock and launched it into the air. It landed all the way forward.

“I know a park nearby we can go to!” She zipped on by without looking at her crossing. I followed her through a thicket. Loose branches reached for our faces. Leveled down dirt eroded in our steps, and squirrels skittered in our stampeding. The sun could barely find us. We broke through without much query. A small clearing opened up within the thickets. A bench, and a swing set sat with the sun’s  watch. She ran towards the slides.

“You know your way around this place. You like this town?”

“I grew up here. I can’t help but to love the town I grew up in.” Her voice only made it to me through the winds.

“And what about the festival? Don’t you want to celebrate?” She slid down the silver slope and planted onto the dirt below.

“I really wish I could, but I have to wait for my mother and father.” She kicked the tips of her shoes into the dirt, denting the earth. Her hair sat mellow on her back.

“You make it sound as if they aren’t here.”

“They flew.” The winds drafted up beneath our feet. The grass beneath us plucked their way towards the sky. A flock of birds cut through the tops of trees, and Lily smiled. She smiled as her eyes began to water. Her feet stopped digging.

“At first it was only my mother but then my father had to fly as well. He said he needed to see mother. But they were gone for so long that I got worried. I asked my sister but she said that it would be too expensive to go there all at once.” I had nothing I could add.

Her dream was to fly. She sat upon an airplane, looking out into the orange afterglow of the sky. She was smiling, a photo of her family in hand. The clouds moved slowly in her dream. Though she never did make it to where she wanted to go. Her dream ended abruptly, with her in the sky, allowing her wings to glide forever.

“How long were they gone?” She sat on the edge of the slide, her feet kicking in pendulums.

“For over a year now.” The wind picked her voice up into my ears as they softly fell out of her mouth. Her hair was splayed onto the silver, blocking the glint of the sun.

“This must have been an awfully lonely year for you then. You must want to meet them again.”

“Of course!” She beamed, her voice rushing up against me.

“We’d have so much fun! We’d be able to go to the spring-time festival, eat all the candy apples, see all the stars, and we can all have dinner again. We’d sit in our living room at our round table. We’d all laugh about our day, talk about what we want to do tomorrow, and even think about the things we didn’t get to do together.” She smiled from one end of her face to the other, her eyes glittering in the sun.  Without realizing it, she shifted her feet, fell onto the slide behind her. She held her head towards me, her eyes streaming. Her face contorted as she held in her words. I got up. I needed to. I wrapped my arms around her as she stilted her voice. I felt her hair on my face. It was smooth.

“But I know it won’t happen,” she finally said as her voice nestled in the wind. I had to strain to understand.

“Lily–”

“My sister got a letter from father this morning. She said that he would be able to bring us to see mother. But mother won’t be there. He said that she won’t be able to see or hear me. He said that she won’t come back home.” I let my warmth wrap around her. She snuggled beneath my chest, her breathing pounded against me. I rubbed the back of her head in gentle strides. I didn’t want to tell her the truth. I wanted her to tell me.

“Your mother, is she still here?” She cleared her throat, her entire body shivering.

“She’s not. My father told me so. My sister won’t admit it. But I know what they mean. They think I won’t understand. It’s what happens when you fly. You become tired like mother, and you fall.” I let go of her. She rubbed her eyes and smiled.

“Do you want to fly, Summer?”

“If I could I would. I’d give anything to be that free. What about you?” She smiled and began back into town.

“I’d be too scared.”

Next Part

I’m writing something alike a book, or is it more a web novel?

Either way, I’m writing what appears to be a long-form narrative, so I might just pass on the classification of writing a book. Also, I haven’t done these in forever. No excuses there, I never was one for these more laid back blog style posts, yeah, that was never my forte.  But, it’s time to put the pencil down and just talk about what I’ll be doing for the next few… Who knows.

essay-writing

And yes, that is an awesome picture I found online of a pencil being put down. That’s all.

To put it shortly, I’ve been at it these past months doing what I love doing every day, and working on my craft, of writing. That hasn’t changed at all, as is seen through my tried consistent posting of my works. I’ve also been dipping my head in other territories involving writing, but, those are of the realm outside this humble space I have set up to store my short stories. In other words, this journey of being a writer still continues on every day no matter what happens, because, this is who I am.

But, I’ve also, among other things and experimenting and trying to do more interesting things in my creative portfolio have started going back to long-form narrative which is actually how I first started. I began by writing these really shoddy novels/books, and, now I’m back at it again, hopefully, this time, not as shoddy.

Thus, I have created Shattered Dreams, which, is also the name of a short story I did a while back. Full story here: https://briandwriting.wordpress.com/shattered-dreams/

And, I’ve also revamped efforts on my micro-fiction blog: https://schoolofwords.wordpress.com/

So hopefully I can start posting more often there. I actually really enjoy that little subsection of my writing journey, for me it’s become a quaint little thing all of its own.

But yeah, point is, I’m going to probably do daily postings of the chapters that I’ve already finished onto this blog, and that means doing something I haven’t done in a long time which is a very active feed. Though of course, I’m not much a conventional personality driven blogger at all, no, I don’t consider myself a blogger, I just like the space I have here to post my stories and apparently, some people read them, which is always fun indeed.

Maybe, in fact, I will do more of these, probably more weekly if anything just to have a place where I can jot down whatever I’m thinking, or do more article style posts where I rant on whatever stream of conscious I so have. I don’t know yet, but, the one certainty is Shattered Dreams, a very much passion project if I’ve ever wrote one.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, I’ll cut it short here, and just leave you be with the first chapter of Shattered Dreams, so, please, by all means, give that a shot: http://wp.me/p6oCGV-rI

 

Shattered Dreams, Chapter 1: Dream to Fly

I collect shattered dreams. In my room, I hold a jar where every shattered dream I find is stored. I find these dreams in the world outside my room. It is my duty to go into the world beyond my door and collect the shattered dreams of those I come across. If they are left for the world they may become forgotten. It wasn’t that I knew when shattered dreams were abandoned, but I had a duty to uphold. If I were to find these dreams, they may even end up back to their owner. It isn’t that a shattered dream is absolute, but just a complication. Though, it wasn’t that everyone took to these complications in strides.

Dreams take many forms. But they’re usually an amalgamation of those who shattered them. It is without doubt that dreams are personalized by that matter. They hide in the unseen depths that people hold within them. I can never miss one when I see a dream. It’s the gift I was made with. Once inside my jar, they turn into glittering marbles.

On odd days, I can interact with those in the world of the living. It’s not as if they can’t normally see me, but it’s that they choose not to. My presence as a divine is a gust in the wind. It’s a privilege all divines share. But if I were to interact with humans or if they so happened to give enough attention, they’d be able to talk to me.  I’m glad for that flaw in our divinity. I reveled in talking to humans.

It was an arid day when the door I opened lead me to a wave of fresh air. I looked around to make sure that no one had noticed the door of the house I came through. The door to my room would guide me into the World of the Living.  I trusted its instinct to bring me to where I needed to be. I noticed as my senses came to me the vacuum of sound. I’d usually expect the roar of cars to brandish the air, and the scuffling feet of crowds to send me in a disarray.

I began walking up the streets, listening as my steps filled the air. All around me were houses lined together in watch. The blooming yards of the homes sprouted towards the sky. The brown tiles of the roofs peered towards me. Few streetlights existed. Every so often, I would try to peek through the curtains that laced the homes. Though I didn’t gather much. I watched the crevices between garbage cans  and at the small of the telephone poles and bus stops in search for shattered dreams. Eventually, as I came to a cross in the road, I saw a tiny girl skipping her away across the street. I wondered if the girl’s stampeding feet had felt louder due to the absence of sound.

Her bright golden hair fluttered in swirls as the sun sat on top of her. I moved past her as she hummed in happy trills. But as I did so, I saw a shine glimmer beneath her feet.

From the hem of the white summer dress she wore an object begun spinning onto the ground. It clasped its way onto the pavement beneath her. The girl was still skipping along, not a single twitch towards the noise. That was a sure sign that what I witnessed was the shattering of a dream.

It wasn’t in my jurisdiction to stop her. I was only created to collect shattered dreams. However, nothing could stop me from doing what I wanted. I had a hobby. I went over to pick up her shattered dream. It was in the shape of an airplane. The moment my fingers pressed onto its silver wings, her dream came flooding into me. Lily was a young child. She had untapped imagination and potential. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her when I received her dream. Even before I had made it my hobby, I had always been glued to the humans I saw.

I opened the lid of the jar tied to my waist. I let the airplane slowly descend into the jar, and as it got closer to the entrance it took the shape of a marble. As the shattered dream fell, I held my jar to the sun and watched as it glittered. The clouds soon came to block me.

I ran up after Lily. She was still skipping along and humming to herself. Her hair fluttered in the short winds that came. She outstretched her arms and spun with every other step. As she got close to the edge of the sidewalk, she winded herself back, and leaped forward. Her feet shook upon impact. She laughed as she flailed in balance.

“Are you usually prancing around in the morning?” I said, waving my hand in front of her. Her golden hair was just a few moments from flying off as she stopped.  Her eyes widened for a moment, but then they lowered, and she looked at me frozen.

“I saw you having so much fun that I couldn’t help but flag you. I’m summer.” I made sure I spoke with small trills and allowed my words to sit in the air. Her eyes beamed and her face grew. I smiled for her.

“That’s an amazing name!” She said as she jumped towards me. I couldn’t help but to chuckle along with her energy. Throughout all my time in the World of the Living, I always found myself attached to children. I wished I could see the world through their eyes, and be like them. That way I could always talk to humans.

“Summer!” She repeated as her eyes lit up. She began running figure eights on the spot. Her arms flailed to her side as if she was gliding. The clouds rolled over us as she was laughing into the air. The shade consumed her, and she continued to turn into another street. I followed suit, seeing her trace her hands on the overgrowth attached to the fences of the homes.

“My name is Lily!” She said as she turned. She smiled from one end of her face to the other.

“A Lily in Summer. Now that’s a nice combination. You like summer?” I asked in jest. She turned and nodded. Her fingers were delicate as she moved. Soon the fences would disperse, and she turned into another road. She didn’t look as we crossed.

“It’s my favorite season!” Her steps bounced with every word she spoke. However not a single other person was there to receive her voice.

“What’s your favorite season?” She began to race up the street, gliding along. I picked up a shattered dream in passing.

“Maybe winter.” She stopped, her mouth agape. Her eyes were wide and her hands shook. I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Winter!? That’ can’t be! Your name is Summer!” I wondered if she could turn a switch to lower her voice. It seemed that a few curtains were fluttering in response to her energy.

“The summer heat isn’t exactly my style.” I lied. My body wasn’t designed to be affected by heat or cold. I could understand when a temperature change is made, but I couldn’t understand the pain it caused. Though I honestly did like winter.

“Summer is so great though!” She opened her arms. I laughed. She jumped up, as if all her energy had burst and came crashing towards me.

“You even smell like summer!” Before I could respond, she started skipping up the sidewalk.

“I don’t know what that means but thanks.” She began shifting her weight, and stepped onto the cracks between the pavement. Before making another step, she jumped onto the crack in-front of her. Her humming buzzed in the air, following the shrill cries of cries of whistling leaves. I wondered how I would try to probe the topic of her shattered dream. Another glinted at me from the edge of a man-hole.

“Watching you be out and about makes me want to cry.” She laughed as she jumped onto another crack.

“It also makes me want to fly.” As she came to another land, she stopped and turned towards me. Her eyes simmered down, and her breathing came to a slow. She let me catch up to her. And as I walked in front of her, she held her arms out and glided slowly to follow.

“Do you know how to fly?” Her voice rung slowly in my ears. Her words were soft. We came to another intersection. Both ways led to a plethora of homes. In the air was the sweet scent of garden flowers and wood chippings. I let her pick a direction before continuing.

“I wish I did. It would be quite fun being able to fly. You’d be able to go anywhere, and see anyone. You’d be able to be close your eyes and listen to the wind. I’d like to try it one day.” I answered honestly. I never really understood why or how I talked the way I did. I’ve lost time collecting shattered dreams. I’ve lost memories. I’ve forgotten people. But I always felt close to humans. No matter what. They warmed me. If I told a divine that I’d be ousted.

“You can even sing with the birds,” Lily added as her steps grew. I saw her smile to herself. Her hair lowered as the clouds came again. Though some of the sun still peeked through. That sunlight would bounce off of the streets, shimmer in window panes, and find itself on the roof of trees. The grass danced around us as we turned another street. I noticed eyes peering at us. Lily didn’t look up from the ground.

“And if you fly, you won’t get tired of walking. You won’t get tired of skipping, or running. Or even being out in a morning like this,” I added in jest.

“Even if I can fly, I’m afraid to fly,” Lily said as she leaned down to pick up a stone.

“What’s there to be afraid of?” She churned the stone in her palms. Another shattered dream found its way behind a pole.

“I could fall. Or maybe if I forget how to fly one day, I won’t be able to.” Lily dropped the stone before continuing.

“But you’d be ecstatic. If I could fly it’d be the only thing I think of, and I’d want to be the best at it.” I rebutted. Lily smiled lightly before walking with a light lull in her steps.

“Things that fly often crash. Like planes.” Her voice stung the air. She brought her arms behind her back. The draft that came with her followed her steps.

“I hear it all the time on the news, and my sister always talks about how sad that must be. I must be really lucky then–” She started as she ran ahead of me.

“My parent’s flew and they’re just fine,” Her smile was brimming with teeth, but her eyes avoided my gaze.

The streets opened up. We were at the top of a hill now. Looking down to where the sidewalk led made me wonder about the safety of the town. However, Lily burst down the sidewalk, running down the slope without trouble. She turned halfway down her sprint and waved me over. I could hear the ringing of wind chimes blowing in the distance. I began to follow her down the slope.

Next Part

Starlight

We thought we were immortal. The air surrounded us, winter creeping into our arms. Our steps echoed in the low light of the stairs. Her pulse grew the closer we got. I turned once to see her eyes in a brilliant glean. The air’s ballad mixed with our steps as we stood in front of the rusted door.  Winter slept in the steel platform draining itself into the soles of our feet as our bodies converged in irregular panting. I tightened my grip. She winced, and her pulse lowered. The cracks of the doors exhaled ash and fuel. Everything came together in the sky. I remember how we first met. We were both trying to fly. We thought we were immortal.

Her dress fluttered in the wind. A thousand frills accompanied a thousand sirens as we came to the edge of the roof. It was barren save for our naive steps. Her hair fluttered with the winds that rose through the building. I wasn’t quite sure how we both failed to fly that day. But when I opened my eyes, I was greeted by a world of white and the soft pulse of her hands over mine. The beeping of that world filled my mind as I closed my eyes. In the distance, was the roaring of an airplane.

“Did you really have to wear something like that, June?” I asked as she twirled on the ledge, her foot nearly slipping. She laughed.

“You’re not complaining now are you, July?”  Her voice rasped into my ears with the gusts of the city. They merged like the lull of a crowd of wheels.

“I’m not. But it’s cold out here. I can’t help but be worried.” She smiled back as she paced on the ledge.

“I appreciate your worry. But I’m not the one who should be taking it.” She stopped in front of me, wrapping her arms around my neck. I felt her weight follow her back. We once thought of having a child name August. We were dumb back then. “This isn’t the first time we’ve done this.” Her smell was intoxicating. “But it really doesn’t change no matter how much I’m here. ” She turned her head back, peering into the streets. I shifted my feet in balance. I readied my arms. I stilled my breathing. The pulses that shot into my hands reminded me of the beating of her heart as she laid her head onto my chest. She wouldn’t let go, even after the doctors came. “This is where we belong.” She looked at me with a smile that paid the night. “Do you think they can see us?”

“Would you want them to see us?”

“I’d want them all to see us.”

“I always thought you were the embarrassed type.”  She laughed, her entire body forcing her way off the ledge. I braced harder onto the roof.

“I’d given that all away the first time we tried. Now I’m as free as a bird.”

“If only we could fly.”

“We will. We’re immortal. No matter how long it takes. We’ll fly.”

“No matter how long it takes you’ll still stay with me?” She pressed forward, lifting from the ledge into my embrace. Her warmth held me together until she pulled me towards the ledge. She came under my arm, pressing me forward towards the filled streets. The lights of the city all raced to find my mind.  In another motion she brought me back, the rush of the city all dispersed with the stars. They blinked like hospital screens.

“I’m here with you now, aren’t I?” Her breath barely reached the sky. “If we could only be stars, we’d already have everything we wanted.”

“If we were stars we wouldn’t be together like this.”

“And that’s fine too.” Beyond the stars were the moon that glittered like a watchful clock. Once filled it would espouse a new month. That’s what we did to pass the time. She would flutter my curtains when the doctors leave. Big dipper to Polaris. Polaris to Little Dipper. She would rave on about all the darkened sea. We would do so until the moon became full.

“If we were stars,” she continued, “we’d be able to die together, without fail.” Her voice lulled into my mind. Her arms brought me back to the ledge. We stood arms in tow, letting the brunt of the city remember our every crevice. “Are we the rulers of the world yet?”

“Not yet. Not even close.” I felt her pulse ring softly. My heart began to follow.

“We’re immortal and yet we can’t even rule the world. What more than to plant our mark when we can.” She laughed.

“It’ll take a little more than just that to make our marks.”

“What do you have in mind for two immortals to be remembered?” I shook my head and let the city swallow me for a moment.

“The stars?” She asked with her hand facing the building opposite.

“That’s right. We have to reach the stars. And once we land, we’ll be the rulers of the world.” She let out a breath that lingered in the air until our next words.

“How long would that take?”

“With just the two of us? It’ll take us a million years.”

“Then I’ll wait a million years for us to touch the stars.”

“You won’t get bored?” She shook her head.

“Do you think we’ll always be together like this?” She asked. Her pulse shifted. That happened once in hospital. The monitor jumped when her warmth left me.

“We’re immortal. Of course we’ll be together.” She pressed her foot forward, hanging it on the collected airs of the city.

“They all seem so small. Everything about the city doesn’t seem so scary anymore. It’s like we’ve become the stars. We can die together like this, even if that is the only time we’ll be together.”

“We’re lightless stars.”

“If we’re lightless stars, then no one will ever know we exist.” I shook my head.

“It just means that we’d have died a long time ago. Eventually, even our lights would have reached the Earth. And eventually, even our stories will be told.” Her eyes glistened in empty flashes.

“In that case, we can’t leave each other. Those hundred years will be so lonely otherwise. It’s good that we’re immortal.” Her grip tightened. Her dress fluttered with the city. I closed my eyes and let the air of the roof swirl into my mind.  We thought we were immortal.

This Is My Journal of a Time I Saved Someone From Suicide

December 23, 20–

The idea of keeping a record of my events, or, of my events soon to be, seems like a desperate attempt at trying to abide by some kind of tacit urge to find worth in a world that never asked for my worth. You see, why else would I begin to write a journal when I’ve lived for twenty so odd years on this earth? Why now, of all the twenty years? It would make sense to say that if I were to keep a complete track of all of my days starting from the day I was born that this act of keeping a journal be not one of insidious self praise. No. It would then be habit, a part of my life. But, now I am keeping a record of my events, or, of my events soon to be. You see, to preface–Actually, saying, “You” is quite odd. It is not in the fact that “You” are reading this that I am addressing some kind of “You”. In fact, I’m going to be reading this. So why am I referring to me as “You”? It just somehow comes to be like that, huh? If I were to give myself a psychoanalysis on why I decided to address this to a second person, then here’s my take on that:

            To my patient, Cadence —-, December 23, 20–

            To give a brief analysis on my patient’s psyche, it appears that she suffers from an  overtly enhanced state of worth. In other words, she believes that she truly is the center of  the world, much like those scientists of the past believed that the galaxy revolved around  Earth. Thus, she seems to interpret her life as having much more meaning and much more flagrance than it really does. She chooses not to admit to the fact that out of the seven billion people on Earth, that she to them, is merely a number in that sum. She simply cannot come to terms with the idea that everyone in the world is not following her daily exploits.

            I asked my friend Anna for advice when writing in a diary. She seemed like the type to always keep one, the type to write gossip and her crushes, and how much she hated every girl in her high school clique who isn’t working at a suicide prevention center. She liked to call it a “space.” It’s a space where I’m supposed to be able to write anything that I wanted without worry that someone will see it. I was very familiar with the term “space.” I had to use it all the time when I picked up calls. It was one of the stock advices that we gave most people.

            “Find a safe space,” we would always say. Having a safe space allowed people to think without worry. It allowed them to be the center of the world for just a few moments, and for them to recollect themselves. I’ve always told people this, but, at the same time, I haven’t always been the best at finding a safe space either. Sometimes I wanted to ask them how they did it, how they managed to find a safe space where they didn’t need to kill themselves. You see, the reason why I can’t often find a safe space, is that my safe space, isn’t safe at all. It’s strange, I know. Maybe I’ll write it down here, so that you can see what I mean.

Oh, I just laughed.

You see, it’s funny to me, that I keep writing, “You”. It’s more like “me,” because I’m the one who’s going to read it later. But, the me who’s going to read this, is going to be different than the me who wrote this. So, it might be appropriate to say, “You” after all.

I laughed again.

Just so that I know, so that I can remind myself, I am writing this at 10:34, right before I go to bed. Well, actually I started at 10:00, but I’ve been writing for a while now. I’m going to take a break, so that I can stay focused. There’s something important that I want to write down here, it’s about my day. You’ll see.

Okay, I’m back.

I guess, I’ll start from the beginning of my day. I can skip all the stuff about getting up and heading to work. I already know my routine. Well, maybe it might be important if I lose my memory. I probably won’t, but I might one day. Sometimes I really do feel like I’m losing my memory. Like a certain part of me begins leaving my body, like I’m being extracted on a surgery bed, every part of me being probed by some kind of steel blade. I feel like that sometimes, honestly. They come for me because I’m doing so well for myself. I think they’re jealous. But that’s why I always carry with me my green pills. They keep me warm. And they keep me focused. I haven’t had them in a while now. I’ve been getting better, I think. That’s what my doctor says.

“Hello?” I said as I picked up the call in the center. My work place was dead silent, as silent as the dead. We each had our own rooms, soundproof, so that we could talk in peace, just like the dead. But, we prevent deaths. That’s our jobs. They say it’s very important. But to me, it’s just a job.

“Hi,” they said. Isn’t that strange? Hello and hi both have the same meaning, but there are two words for them. They remind me of them. What I mean by “them” are the people trying to find me and take me away from my body. I don’t like using pronouns, but I really don’t have a name for them. I’ve only called them, “them” for as long as I’ve been seeing them.

Oh.

Why don’t I give “them” a name then?

Actually…

It’s really hard. Thinking of a name. I wonder if this is how parent’s feel. Name’s are a strange thing. They could mean the world, or they could be meaningless. What about my name? Cadence. I wonder what that means.

“How are you?” I asked. I heard breathing on the other side. Not hard breathing. Light breathing, like they were thinking. I always have to imagine who I’m talking to, since I won’t ever get to see them after our call. Sometimes I get repeated calls, where I talk with someone for more than once, but never in person. I imagined this person to be a girl. I think she was a girl, her “hi” was pretty feminine. I think. Let’s see, she probably has long black hair. No lipstick, a girl like her would not wear lipstick. Or maybe she would, to cover up her depression, she uses all kinds of makeup. Okay, so maybe lipstick. Judging from her voice, probably a university or college student. Let’s say she’s tall. And white.

I didn’t know I was racist.

Okay, focus. What she said… What she said… Okay, so after I asked, “How are you?”

She said, “I’m about to kill myself.” Her voice wasn’t shaking, like I thought it would. In fact, she was stern, cold, and focused. But she wasn’t done.

“What the hell do you think I am? How am I? I’m about to go drive a knife through my neck, how do you think I am!?” Then, from her cold demeanor, was a sudden rush of lava, a volcano erupted. My co-workers never told me to retell my stories like that. They said I was being insensitive. I don’t get it. I’m just saying how it is. Sometimes, they would even laugh at me, and give me the suicide prevention talk because they think I’m crazy. I hear their whispers. Only Anna isn’t out to get me. I think. Hopefully she isn’t. She’s the only one I like. Everyone else is always teasing me. I actually haven’t been to anyone else’s rooms. I wonder if they are all white and quiet like mine.

Okay, back to it, I’m sorry.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that,” I said. She sighed before answering.

“I know. Give me some slack. I’ve been thinking about killing myself for the past twenty four hours. I’m irritable as hell right now and my friend just asked me if I was “okay.” No I’m not okay, I’m about to drive this knife through my throat.” Her voice never faltered once, an uncanny resolution.

“Why do you want to do that?” I asked. Usually, it would be for my job. This time, for some reason, I was interested. Not just for my job, but as me, Cadence. Something in me began ringing as I said this. Not the person on the other end of the phone. But in my head. It was the ringing that usually preceded the steel blades to come. I may have developed a fear of knives because of them.

“That’s a good question. And let me answer by asking you a question. Why do you live?” Somehow, I knew her voice was filled with sadness. An indescribable consternation, I imagined, flooded her.

“Why do I live?”

“Right. Why do you get up in the morning? Why do you go to work? Why do you care?” I couldn’t come up with an answer. In fact, the longer I tried to come up with an answer, the more my head began to ring until a loud banging began residing outside the door to my room. I couldn’t make it stop, and the only thing that brought me back was her voice through the phone.

“Just forget about it. I’m wasting my time. Thanks for trying though, I’m going to go ahead and slice my throat now. No hard feelings, you won’t be blamed.”

“Hold on!” My white room was quiet. Eerily quiet. I began shifting my feet under my desk, feeling the soft foam shift under my weight, and I sighed.

“I can’t give you an answer right now,” I began, “but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have one. You can’t just tell me to tell you something so–” I paused. Everything in my white room was quiet and soft. Nothing bounced. Only absorbed.

“Profound. I can’t just give you an answer like that. It’ll take me… At least a day to think about.” She laughed. She laughed into the receiver.

“It’ll take you a day to think about why you want to live, and it took me a day to think about why I want to die. Okay. Then, why don’t I give you a day? Give me an answer that won’t make me shove this knife down my throat.” She hung up. Without a second thought, she was gone. And I guess, the rest is history. That was really the only part I wanted to write down. The rest of my day, much like my job at the suicide prevention center, is just something I go through nonchalantly. And so, it all comes to tonight. Where I’m now writing this journal and recounting everything that I want to write down, everything that I wish to store within this safe space. Tonight’s a lucky night. They haven’t come for me yet.

I guess, a good name for them, would be the Blades. That’s the short form. The Steel Blades, in full. Only because every time I see them, they brandish steel blades and wish to gut me like a fish.

Anyway, I need to spend the remainder of my time in bed pondering about her question again. I had been doing that before, and that led me to start a journal entry. Here we are.

Matchbox Girl

On this day last year I found a matchbox girl. I used to live in this town, but I moved into the city with my parents ever since they found new work. I didn’t want to leave the town that I had grown up with, but I knew that staying wouldn’t have done me any better. I don’t regret leaving when we did last year. I don’t regret having to say goodbye to my friends. I don’t regret meeting a matchbox girl.

I ruffled my way through the snow and pushed past the dead trees as their branches threatened to claw at my face. A twig would break someplace beyond me and I would jump at the sight of a dark-furred creature wandering about. I felt something hostile within the air of the forest. I knew exactly why, but I wasn’t the one that the forest wanted. I only had her scent. I pressed on with memory to get to the spot that she brought me on this day last year. I was happy when I had arrived, and even a bit reluctant to step forward. It was a small clearing with a single shed. It surprised me then and it surprised me now that the shed still remained. It wasn’t particularly large, but the wood seemed as if it had been taken by rot.

On this day last year I found myself in this town’s forest after getting into a fight with the local thugs of the school. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a fighter, nor was I any more fit to fight them than my kid sister. However, I had a bone to pick with them. I wasn’t the best son, I wasn’t the best friend nor was I even the best brother. I was a spoiled brat thick and thin, and I wanted to prove some kind of strange masculinity to them. I hated them. I hated the way they ran around like the town belonged to them. I hated how they picked on the weak, and my stubborn attitude sought out to up rule them. I was engrossed in my own bellicose, and what came out of it was a five way beating. I managed to walk out of it with barely a foot on snow, but I didn’t back down either, and I did some damage despite my odds. It was a good day that day. I didn’t have much going for me, I figured I would drop out of school and just find some work at a pier. To finally have some kind of reason for doing, to finally be able to break the apathy in my life made me ebullient.

I was on my way out from their hangout when one of their guys stopped me. He wasn’t a part of their group but he called himself a mediator. I pushed past him, but he shoved a joint in front of me. He told me to take it, and that if I could still manage to see tomorrow than he would tell the thugs to back off. I saw no reason to refuse, and I knew that I couldn’t move about in the town after I had started a war. It seemed reasonable to accept his offer, and with how I was back then I had no one to tell me otherwise that smoking a strange joint wouldn’t be safe. I thought that maybe after doing this I would find another escape, another way for me to be unrestrained. I craved for that in this town. I wanted something to happen, but I didn’t know how to make that a reality. I was a brat who got whatever he wanted, but money can’t cure ignorance.

I wandered into the forest wondering if I could start a flame and let this strange poison take me away. I was a brat, and an idiot. It was the thick of winter, and I was trying to find rocks to start a spark. Maybe I hoped that I wouldn’t find anything, that I would simply say that I had smoked it, lying about the results. Maybe I was just tired of being who I was, but… I was so adamant on finding something. I pushed through the dead branches that day just like I did when I came back. And somewhere in the tree lines, I saw smoke.  It was a very subtle smoke that was emerging, and although I knew that causing mass deforestation was hapless considering the season, I checked it out. That was when I first saw her. She held a matchbox with her left hand, and a lit match in her right. In front of her on the ground was a pile of broken flames.

My steps crunched in the snow, but she stood un-vexed by my presence. She took another match from her box once the one she was holding faded. It was almost like looking at a kid trying to burn an ant in the shade. I laughed at her. Not the arrogant laugh I used to mock people, nor the laugh I used when I was pretentious. She had bright gold hair that was tucked away inside her jacket. Her cheeks were flush red and her teardrop shaped eyes peered up at me.

“You know that it’s the middle of winter right?” I said as she threw away another match.

“What’re you even doing with matches?” She looked at the joint still in my hand, and then snickered as she drew another match.

“You planning to smoke that? I ain’t got matches for you if that’s what you want. ” Her accent was brash, hit me like a piece of hail and then shattered on my feet as I noticed the red liquid dripping from my head. But it was a pleasant pain. She wasn’t like the thugs at school. Somewhere in her voice I heard a strange sweetness. It was like tasting poisoned honey.

“What about you? What do you need to light?” I asked back. She watched as another match drifted in the torrid winds of winter. She sighed and then began walking some place into the forest, but before leaving my sights, turned and said, “You coming?” I followed her. Her figure in front of me was like chasing a dream. She was little less than perfect, and I wondered if I had known she lived in this town if I would have liked to be with her. Everything about her was alluring, and yet I remembered that it was poisoned honey. You don’t get crazier than a girl in the middle of winter trying to burn matches in the forest. At least not in this town.

She stopped in front of her shed, and flung open the door as if it was a repulsive barrier. I couldn’t make much of what was inside but she came out aptly enough to show me. I didn’t know what came first, my terror, or anger. She hung by the feet the corpse of a dead rabbit. It’s white fur was lined with red, and I couldn’t make out how it’s joints or guts had been carved out.  She flung the corpse onto the snow between us, and lit a match. She brought the flame close to her face, and the reflection of it within her eyes made it seem blue. Nonchalantly she brought the flame to the corpse of the rabbit and watched it erupt. It was lined with oil. I could smell it in the air and it wafted from the shed. I wanted to run, scream for help, but I stood there unable to do anything. My body wanted to stay, and somewhere my mind wanted to stay. She smiled as she watched the corpse burn, and then looked up to see my face.

“What’s wrong? Never seen a dead body?”

“You’re a murderer, an animal killer… A psycho,” I had a way with words.

“And what about you? Waving that thing around like it’s a firecracker. The only person in this town that makes those things is–” She had a revelation and kissed her teeth, “Let me see that.” She grabbed the joint from my hands and then unrolled the contents onto the snow in front of the burning rabbit. She sighed and then looked up with pity, “You’re lucky you found me. This stuff would have killed you, you realize that right?” She pushed the contents into the flame and then snuffed it with snow.

“You shouldn’t be playing with your life like that. What’d you do? Lose a bet or something?” I told her what happened. She smiled, shook her head, then told me to come into the shed. I did so, knowing all well that I probably would have been better off losing myself in the clouds.

The inside of the shed was lined with cages, some had live rabbits, and others had been recently mutilated. The smell of oil mixed with the caged corpses. My eyes hadn’t adjusted to the dark yet, and I wished to some god that it didn’t. She took one of the cages, and then brought it outside.

“Look buddy, you ain’t got to pick fights with them. It’s not worth it. Here,” she brought me over to the cage where the fresh corpse of a rabbit peered into my eyes like a sorry toddler. It was already covered in oil. She took a match from her box, and then lit it under her palms.

“If you want to show off that badly, then why don’t you just study or something? Get a job, get a future. Maybe find yourself a nice girl. Don’t throw away your future like that. You ain’t no punk. You squirmed at a dead rabbit, you’re not fit out for that life.” There was  a certain fragility in her voice, like she could barely muster her words. She played them out for me like trying to swim her way through a frigid ocean. It was hard for her to talk to me like that, and yet I thought she was right. What was I doing picking fights, trying to be someone who I wasn’t. Those thoughts lingered in my mind.

“Here,” she handed me the match, and I held it close to my face, watching as it burned under my palm. It was fickle, flickering with each of my breaths, beneath my tamed bellicose, it was entrancing.

“Look buddy, I don’t know you. You sure as hell don’t know me, but I don’t want to see you down that path, okay? Just trust me. Don’t fall for that crap. There’s more to life than that. I’ll tell you right now that if you want to pretend to be tough, you’re just gonna get shot.” Her eyes were wistful, despite being so near me, she was in a place all of her own. She was somewhere far beyond me in a place unreachable, and once I had realized that, her poison became morphine. She looked up, and her eyes glistened with worry and exhaustion.

“If you want a way to get away from the world, just burn it all down. And be the only one who can be in control of that.” I dropped the match onto the rabbit, watching as it blazed into a parasitic bonfire. She smiled at me, her smile reaching from one end of her face to the other.

“Now you’re my accomplice. If you don’t want this to spread, why don’t you go back to being a good kid. You still have a family after all, take care of them. Sure life is boring sometimes, but… Find something to do, burn that boredom away.” I had no words for her. And she took that as my understanding. She got up, threw snow on the corpse, and brought the cage back into her shed. I was going to leave, having heeded her advice, I was going to say my goodbye, but she came out of the shed with a mantra. She lit another match, and grabbed my arm. Her grip wasn’t inviting, and I could see something brittle within her eyes. She brought my sleeve up and then brought the flame to my skin. I struggled, and my heart raced a thousand miles.

“You’re crazy! What’re you doing!?”

“A promise–” she forced the flame onto my arm, and I felt tears roll down my face. She was writing something on my arm.

“A promise that you’ll keep, between you and me, that you’ll be a better person than I ever could be, that you’ll live on to be the greatest pyromaniac in the world, that you’ll live your own life.” She branded an “E” on my arm, to which I desperately poured snow to snuff out the pain and bleeding. She was panting, when she was done, and just as abruptly as she branded my arm she stroke another match and said as she brought the flame to her open arm, “What’s your name?”

“A–”

“Good enough.” She brought the flame and branded an “A” on her arm without a single wince. I watched as the blood dripped onto the snow like hail striking her face, shattering at her feet. She then pressed her arm onto mine, causing me to fall back onto the snow. She laughed, her voice stifling pain and tear, “We’re bound by blood now.” Her smile was unwavering, beautiful even.

“It’s like we’re married. Till death do us part.” She looked at her own arm and closed her eyes. She was much stronger than I ever could be. But within that strength, was fragile glass. I saw that within her eyes.  A glass that could be shattered with just the tiniest crack.

“Sorry I was rough, but… I want that to be the epitome of pain in your life. If you think your life is rough, just think back to this day when a matchbox girl burned your arm.” Her smile was addicting, and it lingered in my mind, and on my arm. I never saw her again.

I opened the rotting shed door, wondering if her cages were still there. They weren’t. The shed was relatively clean. No blood or guts, or oil. I wondered where she was, if she was still burning bodies. And I couldn’t help but smile when I noticed what was on the shed floor. I leaned over to grab it, and then left the shed. I didn’t bother closing the door. I opened the box, there was only a single match left. I pressed it against the flap, and then drew my hand back watching as the flame came to life.