From the writer’s workshop at the Astoria Bookshop. Unedited. Terribly punctuated. It’s gold, people. HA HA HA.
What the hell do you mean, “Snow that isn’t snow”. I mean, seriously. I’m thinking of ashes in my eyelashes, thinking of debris, thinking of standing outside on the curb because my house has just burned down. It’s December, and while I’m grateful to have some heat in my newfound homelessness, I’m not entirely happy that I’m going to be spending tonight outside. Unless, of course, fireman O’Leary decides he needs some company tonight.
I don’t have a family. They left me years ago.
I’d love to explain, but all the proof has just gone up in flames. If you look hard enough into the haze you might be able to make out the specter of a reason, somewhere in the bits of string, smoldering alongside tattered upholstery, the pillows, the sheets, and the floors we walked before the war took him away.
They (my family) never liked him. And now that he’s gone, really gone, I wonder whether I did the right thing. I wonder whether the few years we had together justified two bereavements: first my family, and then him. No, three, when you count the cinders lapping at the edges of my robe.
No place to go.
In the extreme.
That’s all this is.
Maybe this is all the excuse I’ll need to just take to the open road, finally… To go out there and see what I’ve never seen and do all the things I’ve never done and drive far, far away from this old world, which is (literally) burning at my feet.
Some people would give anything to be on the edge of this moment. I question whether they would feel that way if they had to pay the same price.
Someone puts their arm round me, I don’t know who. I stand there, petrified, unable to discern whether it’s from shock, or cold, or both. And all I can think, suddenly, is.. that smell. The smell. It’s like a fireplace doped up on burning rubber and melamine fumes. Like something that’s supposed to be warm and comforting gone terribly wrong. Kind of like my relationship with Jon.
I can’t help but smirk at the irony: an explosive expert’s kingdom ruined in an untimely blaze just like its king. So much for going out with a bang.
I hear sirens, water, footsteps, and gawking. Endless gawking. But nothing is so overwhelming as the smell, the smell… the smell. That smell and suddenly I’m transported to that night on that stupid beach. It was late August, and I have no idea why we were even there. And it was cold as hell.
“Hey, you wanna build a bonfire?”, he had asked.
“Yeah, do you?” I said.
“Yeah. Let’s do it.”
So we did. And then we danced, for a little while. I said, yes, but somehow I don’t think I was answering the same question he thought he was asking. We were married a week later, practically under duress, as his deployment was imminent.