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.

Apocalypse [Flash Fiction]

Kit posted a writing prompt, so I decided to create a weird piece of flash fiction out of it. Not one of my best, but I’m tired and my legs are burned from standing outside in the sun all day at work. Also, the dialect is purposefully weird, and you’re not supposed to necessarily pinpoint the accent. I know dialect can be annoying, but I felt that if I was going to write a little apocalypse flash fiction piece, I might as well put it down the way I see it (and hear it) in my mind. Enjoy the weirdness and feel free to dislike it (does that even make sense? I really am tired.).

It happened in a searing wave. When grandpappy told me bout it, he got all red in the face, like as if ’twas happening right then while he was saying it. Mam can’t hardly remember any ‘fit, cause she was so small. Da’s older than her – he and Mam say that there was ten years tween them, but years don’t mean any old thing anymore. A year used t’be when the planet went round the fireball once, but time’s all different ways now that the fireball exploded.

Grandpappy told me’n Sean that there was a people a long long time ago that used to love the fireball and called it God. Sean laughed at Grandpappy and tol’im he was stupid cause everyone knows that the fireball was the Devil and tried to kill all of us once. God saved us and made the few docs that lived invent D-Bits so we get our fire vitamins reg’ler. But Grandpappy jus’ looked at Sean laughing and was really sad. He gets this look on his face, Grandpappy does, and I can see that me’n Sean aren’t as good as he wanted us to be. He tells us that were all sorts of stuff when he was a kid that we can’t have now, but I say that it’s better this way. God don’t need books and big buildings and stuff – the Dark is good enough for any prayer meeting and Grandpappy should know that. Mam and Da yell at him sometimes, and Mam calls him something but she never tells me what it means. I guess it’s real bad? She says he’s a Nathiess and says that she’ll be burned if her kids’ll be too. Grandpappy tells her we’re stupid, but I stopped cryin’ about that moons ago.

He might think I’m stupid, but Grandpappy lived when the fireball blew and that means God wanted him to care for Mam so she could marry Da and have Sean’n me. It’s enough to live after what happened to the planet, everyone knows that. Even Grandpappy.


Three Dreams

One

I am at a wedding. I’m positive that it’s some sort of traditional Scottish wedding. I dance in circles, kicking my legs in and out in a pattern which seems correct, but as I’m doing this I’m sure that I really don’t have any clue what I’m doing and I hope that no one will notice the fact that I’m completely faking whatever the dance is supposed to be. Two people are doing the same thing beside me, but they seem to really know the dance. I end my circle by slowing down, almost to slow motion, and then with the thought of making a dramatic exit, I leap into the sky. I’m shooting up, when suddenly some thing, some sort of beast, whizzes past me, almost biting my head off. I wake up in terror.

Two

I am in the lobby of a restaurant. Leonardo DeCaprio is there, as is Angelina Jolie. They are lying back in beach chairs and are completely still, like wax statues. I go up to the restaurant, and the waiters are all standing around, leaning against the walls. I talk to them, and I come to understand that there’s a problem with the boss – that he’s stopping business or some such. I get a mental image, like a vision, of a dark room with something prowling around it, commanding the restaurant’s boss. A sense of dread pours over me, and I feel that the boss isn’t the ultimate boss in this place – that he’s being manipulated by this beast, this evil thing. I want to get out. I go back down to the lobby, where two girls are now chattering about the famous actors there. They’re speaking in Hebrew, so I can understand them, but Leo and Angelina can’t. The girls try to tell me how they met – something to do with their eighteenth birthdays. I smile, I nod, I wonder why they’re telling me this when I have no clue who they are, and I quickly exit the restaurant.

I am now out on the street and it’s dark, dusk. I turn right, and walk down the street. The sidewalk and street are separated by fences enclosing dirt, as if the gardens are blocked off for planting. I walk down further, and at the end of this semi-enclosed walkway, I see a mattress. A man is lying on it, upper half naked, asleep. Next to his bare back – for he is lying on his stomach with his face averted to me – I see what appears to be a hole in the mattress. In the hole, I see a woman’s face. I get an overpowering feeling that she is dead. I walk past quickly, but just as I turn the corner, I feel a tug at my unbound hair – the man is hauling me back, and I know in my bones that he will butcher me and stuff me inside that mattress along with the others. I wake up in terror.

Three

I am out camping with my friends. There is a bonfire going, and one of my girlfriends tries to heat water over it in a Styrofoam cup. I want to yell out at her that it will burn, but I don’t, as I’m distracted by a bread basket that is being passed around by my friends. I take a piece of bread and eat it, suddenly realizing that I’d eaten a McDonald’s dinner earlier and thinking that I’ve eaten too much and that I don’t want two dinners. I wake up in terror, and then smile at the silliness of this last dream.

Cathartic Description

A white blaze of fire seems to travel from the nape of my neck and all the way up to the crown of my skull. It spreads as it goes, reaching places in my face and bone structure that I’m normally not even aware of. There are so many parts of the ear that I never notice, but when the pain creeps up the side of my face I realize just how complex the cartilage of the ear is and how soft and susceptible to pain the skin right behind it is.

My jaw is even more attuned than I am. I can almost hear it protesting and groaning as the painful fire shoots flame after licking flame into it. I can feel the long bone, stretching from right next to my ear and down almost to my chin, and I can feel the creaks in it as I try to open my mouth wide enough to yawn the inevitable nauseous yawn that is caused by the painful flames.

My eyebrow and eye seem to be warring for my ultimate attention, each begging to be soothed by the firm press of a finger or palm. The eyebrow and the bone behind it win out, because the poor eye gets even more painful when given over to the practice of being rubbed firmly by the knuckles of my fingers.

Writing about it doesn’t really help, but it seems like a better way of dealing with the pain than banging my head against a wall.