The fire burns beside me. We chat
And speak of anything but rain.
He gets the place ready to ignite.
We make the bed and dust the picture frames
Sweep but do not mop. I take out the trash.
He tells me it’s the easiest job he’s seen in years.
He tells me it’s already flammable. He tells me
I’m already on fire, that I saw tears and knew to burn.
He praises me for being ready to blaze.
When we’re done, I pack up. It’s cleaner that way, he says,
Better you know what you are saving before it is burning.
We exit, hand in hand, and I ignore the feeling–
His fingers scorch, palms enkindle,
But I squeeze harder.
With one breath the house is gone.
Ash rests on the tip of my nose.
He nudges me.
It’s better off this way.
And we go ahead and climb the stairs,
Suitcase wheels clacking beneath us.
When he releases my hand,
I feel the warmth still.
Across my palm, four seared marks.
I look away and clench it into a fist.
Even now he has not let me go.
Josie Bednar is a writer and athlete based in Texas. When not writing, she can be found organizing her personal library or on the basketball court.