You come across a pack of matches that sets off a series of uncanny events. Start your story with “My mother always told me not to play with fire.” End it with “And that’s how I ended up in the middle of nowhere—naked.”
(Didn’t get to the naked part and there is more to come. But it’s a start and I like it.)
Flame by Lexanne Leonard
My mother always told me not to play with fire. I seldom listened.
It started when I was five. I loved to watch the flames in the fireplace dance around, sending their ashes and smoke up the chimney and into the air. I imagined myself a whirling partner waltzing with the red and gold flames but staying away from the blue ones that seemed like they should be cold instead of hot. I saw myself in a ball gown adorned with sparks instead of diamonds and my long hair flickering with every move. The fireplace blaze kindled in me an urge to fly up the flue and travel on the smoke to far away lands where ash and smoke come to rest.
So it was when I came across my father and his pack of matches that my destiny was sealed. He had a horrible habit of smoking, not in the house as demanded by my mother, but next to the garage at the edge of the weeping willow his mother planted when he was just born. It was there he would sit for exactly a half hour between work and dinner and smoke his Camels and stare into the sky. Most evenings I would sit next to him looking in what I thought was the same direction wondering what he saw. We wouldn’t say a word to one another. We just enjoyed being in each others company. It was the day I came home late from Tara’s house that I finally realized what he was actually looking at.
I stood silently just inside the kitchen screen door looking into the backyard and surprised by what I was watching and not wanting to interrupt. I was transfixed on his ritual of lighting the match. Gently and with grace, if that is at all possible, the fingers of his left hand nimbly opened the cover, removed the small phospored paper stick, closed the cover, and with a flick the match burst into a flame so large it seemed to devour his head as he moved it carefully to his mouth. As quick as the flame appeared, it dissolved and the red tip of the Camel glowed as I watched his eyes follow the smoke into the atmosphere to the far away lands where ash and smoke come to rest.
It was then I knew my calling to the flame was more than just a passing interest. It bore itself deep within me when my mother and father shared their love. It was something I would carry with me and share with my own and, hopefully, their own for eternity.