Spark of Beauty

I didn’t plan on it. It just happened. I swear, it wasn’t on purpose. I didn’t mean to do it. But I guess I should start at the beginning. That’s what they told me I should do. Just start at the beginning, and everything would become clearer as I went along.
I guess the first time was when I was really young. My aunt had baked me the most beautiful birthday cake a boy could ask for. It had the shape of a rocket ship on it, all made out of candy and and sprinkles. The cake itself was creamy and cheesy, just the way I liked it. I’d always hated chocolate, apparently. I was one of the only kids I knew who liked drinking milk straight up. Anyway, the cake had six candles in it – I was turning five, and there was one for good luck. My aunt lit the candles, one by one, with those big kitchen matches. You know the kind. About as long as an adult’s finger, with a red head the size of the pearls on our grandmothers’ pearls.
I think the next time something happened that made me think about things was later that year, on the Fourth of July. It’s not illegal to light up your own fireworks where I live, so every year the whole neighborhood would get together and make a big show of it. The kids would ooh and aah and the adults would echo them, as if they’d never seen the big sparklies in the sky before. This time stands out in my memory, though, because my aunt had a new boyfriend then, and he was one of the guys who went behind the old silo to light the cracklers away from the crowd so that no one would get hurt. My aunt took me with her to see how it was done – thinking back now, I’m pretty sure they also got to necking some while I was investigating the inside of the disused silo. Anyway, once I’d come out of the silo and they’d stopped fooling around in the darkness, my aunt’s boyfriend bent down and showed me the long tail of the fireworks and how you light one end of it so that your hand doesn’t get hurt from being too near where the big BANG happens when the spark hits the chemicals inside that make it do what it does to light up and burst into a hundred little red or green flames in the sky.
I’m not making sense? But – I started at the beginning, didn’t I? Oh. Oh, I see. I haven’t been clear enough. Well, I guess I have a bit of an issue with that, because, you see, not many people really understand what it is that I do. Or what it is that I like, you might say.
Alright, I’ll be blunt, then. I suppose that’s how you’ve gotta be in this sort of thing. Fire, then. I like fire. Why? I couldn’t tell you that. Maybe it’s because my aunt and her boyfriends necked while I was around. Some shrinks have told me that. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have parents, because they died in a car crash – that incidentally also had a fireball involved in it. Oh, yeah, I was in that car crash too. The shrinks love that as well. They think that part of me remembers that beautiful fireball that must have killed my parents and which I was immune to because my little car seat was covered with a blanket that was still damp from the beach, where we’d been that day. But I’ve never seen what a fireball looks like. The shrinks think that that’s what I’m looking for, that that’s why I light houses on fire, that I’m trying to recreate the scene of my second birth from the ruins of a crashed and mutilated car with the corpses of two dead people stinking in front of me.
I beg your pardon. I didn’t mean to make you queasy. I simply get very… agitated, yes, that’s the right word for it, agitated. Because I take offense at the need to explain why I find beauty in something that you people don’t happen to find beautiful. I think that it’s despicable that you think I need some sort of excuse, some sort of ulterior motive, and that without one I wouldn’t enjoy doing what I do.
My lawyer has told me that this wouldn’t be a very good defense, and I suppose she’s right. But it’s also the truth, as my earliest memories have it. Take from it what you will. Just know that I never meant to kill anyone. I just wanted to see something beautiful.

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2 thoughts on “Spark of Beauty

  1. Erin M says:

    Ooooh, I like it! A lot! I love the voice and I love how the character . . . well, you’ve done an amazing job of capturing the “It’s justified in my head” mentality. =]

    How about instead of “our grandmothers’ pearls,” “our grandmothers’ pearl necklace,” just so that “pearls” isn’t repeated twice in such close succession? Or even “your grandmother’s pearl necklace”? (I like the “our” because the narrator is getting chummy with us readers/listeners, making us accomplices, making us relate to him; I’m not sure if “your” accomplishes quite the same thing . . .)

    Sorry if that was rambling, I went off on a bunch of tangents trying to figure out the implications and didn’t write them all down . . . *stops*

    xoxo

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