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  • Writer's pictureHelene Montalvo

Writing Challenge #2

Writing Challenge #2 - Fire

The Beginning and the End

Here’s the thing about fire.

It’s hypnotic.

The way it sways its hips, beckons you with its arms, moving its body to a tune only the flames can hear. Burning passion ignites and consumes as it dances before your eyes, growing as it builds from the insignificant flicker of a birthday candle’s flame to a bonfire devouring all in its wake. It captivates with its beautiful deception. And with all its seduction comes the threat – the knowledge that fire does not fall in love.

It kills.

It wraps its hands around your throat and squeezes until you can’t breathe. It’s a lovely, all-consuming death trap.

I stared at the decrepit wood planks, their years of life worn into them like an old photograph with stories to tell but no one to listen. Bright yellow-orange flames danced along their splintered edges, squeezing in through the cracks and crevices between them. Red-hot demons pulled their way through each blemish, laughing at me as I watched, mesmerized by the erotic dance between fire and smoke that twisted before me.

Danger called my name, but I did not listen. It was like being engrossed in an amazing book. I could hear my surroundings, could comprehend the threat, but I was so absorbed I blocked everything else out. I recognized the flames, knew their dance was only meant to lead me to my end, but my limbs refused to comply. The story was too good, the story of the fire and smoke fighting for its prey.

My face was pressed against the dirt floor and my body covered in filth for so long it was like a second skin. Sweat spilled from my pores as the heat intensified, and all I could do was marvel at the glorious beast that threatened to consume me. I was one with the floor – a mud sculpture awaiting my demise – an encased body lying in the remains of Pompeii.

To speed up the inevitable, I stretched out my hand toward the flames and welcomed death. I had been wishing for it, dreaming of it, for so long death had become as fascinating as it would be to see every star fall from the sky. I craved it. And though I stretched out to grasp its hand, it was just out of my reach. Any amount of strength I’d possessed had been drained from me long ago. My outstretched hand surrendered and dropped to the floor, waking and angering the dirt that jumped up and clouded my vision for the slightest moment, laughing as it stole the show.

I was ready to die, ready to leave the horrors of my life behind.

Just as I moved my eyes to the flame inching its way closer to my fingers, fighting desperately to bite my skin, something grabbed my shoulder and rolled me onto my back.

A masked face appeared before me. “Miss?” He seemed alien to me, or maybe it was the oxygen mask that muffled his words and suit that covered him from head to foot. Either way, I wished he was an alien, wished he would take me to his planet and treat me with a kindness I’d never known.

He glanced over his shoulder and called out, “There’s a girl in here!” Then he reached down and picked me up.

Every part of me ached, but I’d become numb to the pain. It was there, and I could feel it, but my mind and my body seemed to separate, snap away, and all I could do was choke on misery. The man pressed me against him, and as my head lolled to the side, I saw the dark pool of crimson I’d been lying in. Just before I succumbed to darkness, let it whisk me away into a painless slumber, I thought that river of red beneath us must surely be more blood than my body could hold.

When I closed my eyes I felt the world tumble away from me, and the stars fell out of my sky.

#writing #helenemontalvo #ShatteredShrouded

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