Girl on Fire

She walks on embers, but she doesn’t burn. Inside, she is cold. The one thought she had was to escape, but they stopped her with hot words and heated glares. Now, her room is a furnace and the air is filled with sparks. Her heart seizes after every beat, a neat little silence that fills the air for the briefest of moments. Her breath puffs out in front of her nose, an icy exhale melting into steam.

They cage her like they’re afraid. She shakes and trembles and bares her teeth when they approach. The coals under her feet want to ignite the air, but hiss as she shifts over them. The entrapped girl can only pace, as frost turns to sweat on her temples. ‘Make her like us,’ one had said, unerring, as they observed her. ‘She does not have fire. She will break.’ They pushed her with spears of red iron, prodded her sides until they withdrew their chilled weapons.

The girl of ice was thawing. Her breath was no longer visible, and her palms were hot. The air clutched at her throat, attacked her eyes. Salted water poured over her nose and into her mouth. It took an infinite amount of time for the girl to crack, but here she was: ice to slush, and then into a new substance entirely.

The girl shrinks away from her bars, unable to touch the metal as she once did. They wield hot pokers that sear her skin, char it black. She lays on the embers and wishes for a cold breeze. The heat in the air accepts her defeat and lays with her. It evaporates her tears.

‘You have broken her,’ one says to the others. ‘That is not what I wanted.’ They shake their heads at the damaged wreck at their feet. ‘Her ice kept her alive. She cannot withstand the fire.’ They did not disagree. She picked herself up one last time, hot through and through, and stared at the man who had killed her.

I Had A Friend

I had a friend who listened to me;
she listened so much that she didn’t hear me ask about herself.
She kept her arms and ears open,
but not to the extent to which I could reach out and pull her into myself.
I wanted to save her,
she only wanted to save me, and leave herself in the cold.
One day she asked me why I didn’t care, and I didn’t have an answer.
I thought I had shown her my love through my voice, but she couldn’t hear it.

I had a friend who was kind;
she cared and cared for everyone except herself.
She wished the world to anyone else,
but didn’t stop to consider who cared for her.
I wanted to save her,
she only wanted to save me, and leave herself in the cold.
One day she asked me why I didn’t listen to her, and I didn’t have an answer.
I thought I listened, but maybe it wasn’t her words I was supposed to pay attention to.

I had a friend who listened, and a friend who was kind.
They stretched and yawned and curled into each other.
They were ready to come in from the cold,
But I couldn’t be the one to open the door.
They built a fire of my bones,
Stacked burning words atop my flesh, watched me sizzle,
and thought nothing of saving me.
I became ash.