Grade: 10th grade
Age: 15


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Alice jolted upright on her bed, heart was thumping madly in her ears as fear-induced sweat dripped from her forehead. She looked around, desperate to get her mind off the horrifying nightmare she just had. Where was she?

The red light from the air-conditioner turned blue.

Ah. Mom’s room’s the only one with an air cond., she thought to herself. Or rather, it was her room now, after mom decided to move out. Alice reached a feeble hand upwards to let the cool breeze snuff out the fire burning painfully within her.

Nothing. She felt nothing. Any colder and she knew Daddy would be scolding her.

Daddy. Her thoughts turned to her funny, loving father. She always loved Daddy. She would never understand why mom didn’t, and why she had decided that she needed a better life. Wasn’t this the best life she could get? A life with her, a life with Daddy?

Fragments of her nightmare drifted through her mind. Houses aflame, her father screaming her name, unseen voices chanting. She closed her eyes, but they were still there; burning. These nightmares had started long, long before. Night after night, she tossed and turned, replaying the same day over and over again in her head, searching for something, anything, she could learn. All she knew was that this day was the reason. This day held the answers.

The day she had played with fire.

Her heart picked up its pace as she remembered what had happened; she was four, and she had seen Daddy light a match to burn a candle when the power had gone out. The way the tiny flame had lit up the darkness enticed her. She needed to see this thing again, this amazing thing that was so small yet so powerful, so beautiful, so mysterious…

Carefully, she picked up the matchbox and pulled out a match. She did it just like Daddy did: drag the match quickly against the side of the box. The match lit up; a vision of glaring yellow, flaming orange with a tinge of the deepest blue at the bottom. She felt the sudden power of that tiny, tiny flame in the palm of her hand, the miniscule flame that lit up the entire house with a glow that resonated from deep within it.

I wonder how it feels…

Even before she finished thinking those words, her free hand was sneaking its way towards to the mystical being she held. Her eyes traced every tiny flicker of the flame as it battled against gusts of wind only it could feel. Her nose barely registered the acidic aroma of the wisps of smoke. Threads of warmth brushed her cheeks gently as she reached closer and closer and closer until the very edge of the flame was only a hairs width away from her tiny finger.

She hesitated.

Perhaps, it was destined for her to stop, to ponder, to fear what lay inside the pulsating orb of light and warmth. Perhaps the universe wanted this to happen. Perhaps it was one of those things in life that we mere mortals can only dream of controlling.

For the flame stood still.

The flame watched her, as if it knew, as if it had always known this moment would come.

It waited.

And it spoke.

She didn’t know how, but she heard it. Not with her ears, but she felt it speaking; with a voice ancient yet new, foreign yet familiar, mysterious yet simple. It whispered, begging her to feel them, to hold them, to become them…

Her hand was inside the flames.

She marvelled at the strength of the flames; the heat and light it gave off blinded her senses and yet awoke them in a way that she never imagined was possible. This was not something to fear or hide from, it was something amazing and beautiful that deserved to be admired. The voices grew louder in her head, and she knew, somehow, she was one with the fire. One with the flames, one with the light, one with the heat it gave off and one with the heat that lived within it.

Fire flames burn light warmth life heat darkness move speak blaze ignite, it chanted. We are one, the girl and the fire, the flames and the girl, the spark of the fires.

If Daddy had not chosen to come in then who knows that would have happened. He shouted and broke the heavy trance Alice was in, before rushing to extinguish the flames. It died with a small hiss, cursing the water, praying that it would live again.

Alice inspected her arm, replaying the memories over and over again. There were no marks, or any sign of physical damage. In her mind she could see the flames snaking up her again. She burned even more, a tingling sensation that sent a wave of scorching heat into her veins.

“No,” she whispered. “I did get scarred, somewhere inside of me.”

Now she knew where all the nightmares of houses burning and fire chanting came from. Now she knew where the painful flames she felt inside came from.

They came from her.

She was the fire, and the fire was her.

In the dark of the night she summoned her mental strength and imagined the heat flowing inside of her, scraping desperately to be set free, and she pushed them out of her and into the palm of her hand. The flames that had died long ago sprang up again, rejoicing at being awoken; whispering wonderful secrets and telling tales woven from golden threads of heat. She listened just like she did so long ago, trapped in a trance of rapt attention by the dancing flames that were as beautiful as they were dangerous.

You are us we are you flames light heat warmth power death life again we have risen the spark has awoken the spark has awoken she is the spark we are the fire we all are one.

3 thoughts on “Sparks

  1. Author captures young girl’s intense obsession with flames vividly. Does not seem to make much of a connection between this and her mother’s desertion. Lack of physical pain and personification of fire mark this as fantastical and troubling.

  2. Fascinating story of how child becomes obsessed with fire/flames. Not a totally coherent story, and it’s not clear what triggers her understanding that the flames are in her. It’s also not clear what she will do with this power (she seemed to set herself on fire as a four year old)– and why it took so long for her to discover her ability to make fire. Perhaps part of a larger (maybe superhero or supervillain) backstory?

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