Wednesday, September 8, 2010

[Tuesday is Fireday in Japanese]

One unfortunate word, and a handful of ill-starred incidents; one frightened girl, and a hundred conversations that burst into flames when her eyes were closed. She doesn't dare blink anymore, and her eyes are drying out.

But eventually, she has to sleep, and when she does, she dreams.

She sees the wildfires through her eyelids. Before she even wakes up, she is running. Before the spark is even struck, she is running: all it takes is the tinderbox, the flint. The grass on the golden hills is dry. It rustles and cracks as she passes through. She sprints across the slope, staggers, sobs. The heat of the sun is strong on her skin. Summer is stuck here, caught in the long grass. The sun is a hole burnt through the hard blue sky.

She doesn't look back, the girl who keeps running and tumbling, squeezing her eyes shut. She doesn't want to see. She hears the roaring of the conflagration in her ears, though she's not sure: is it her blood pounding, her heart crackling? The merciless sky doesn't soften. She feels it glare down on her, and she won't meet its gaze. This is another reason she keeps her eyes closed, when she can.

Finally she falls. Scraped palms, scratched knees, lungs grabbing the air, she finally opens her eyes. Heat waves squiggle over the hills behind her, and a haze of cloud drifts there. She is too far away now to see if the cloud is smoke, if heat is streaming up from licking flames. She is too far away to tell if the fire she saw with her eyes closed ever burned through her skin to set the hills ablaze.

She blinks, and the flames kiss her again, and she vows never to sleep anymore, or at least not to dream. But you can only watch for so long. The spark will fly in her mind again soon, and she will wear her feet out running.

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