The world was burning.
Well, to be fair, it wasn’t the world: just the body of my ex-boyfriend. But, I suppose, at one point in time, he was my world. And maybe that’s why this was so damn hard.
At the moment, the air smelled oddly of burning rubber. Now that I think about it, it probably would’ve been wise to have taken the body out of the black trash bag before burning it; perhaps then things wouldn’t be as shitty. The black plastic was clinging to his charred flesh so that he resembled a dark, mushy husk on the ground. On fire. But, you know, mostly the dark, mushy husk thing.
I sighed, running my hand tiredly through my hair. How did things come to this?
I suppose I should start at the beginning.
I met Jonah when I was nine years old. We were in the same class in elementary school, and I basically fell in love with him the second I saw him read Harry Potter. He asked me out six years later, and we went out for frozen yogurt on a wonderful Saturday afternoon. Then, before I knew it, four years had passed, and I’d been with him that long.
We were good together – I think that was the worst part. We were never enemies, and it wasn’t one of those stories where we transposed our secret love for each other into words of hatred. We just…were.
I loved him so much.
That was my first mistake.
And he loved me too.
I should’ve told him about how this would end: with him dead and me standing over his body holding a lighter.
This was how it always ended. It was why my parents practically were never home. Because they were afraid of what I’d do to them. Because they were afraid of me. They had seen what I’d done to our cat, Seelie.
To put it plainly, I had a few issues. I wasn’t a psychopath or anything, but I was always drawn to flames. Even Jonah had noticed. He’d always make the effort to light a fire when we were on the beach, sharing a picnic blanket on a starry night. Whenever we went camping with our friends, he’d make sure we’d get the best seats: closest to the bonfire. Of course, I don’t think he understood just how fascinated I was with fire. He obviously didn’t think that’d be why he’d end up as ashes at my feet.
He was the only person I’d ever truly loved. My parents ignored me, my friends tolerated me, but Jonah… I suppose he was the reason why I never hurt myself with the flame. I’d felt the pull at the prospect of watching my skin blacken and peel off to reveal red muscle underneath, but I never did it. He’d report me, I’d be sent to some insane asylum, and I’d never see him again. So, I mostly kept it to myself.
Everyday, several flammable objects fell victim to my addiction. Dolls. Textbooks. Don’t even get me started on the math homework. I showed up to school with work half-burned, and it was a wonder my teachers never reported me.
Jonah didn’t understand that part of me, and I was okay with that. We were perfect without acknowledging that one stain to our relationship. He loved me so much, and I loved him too much.
I didn’t mean to kill him. I would never hurt him. Not intentionally, anyway.
But things got out of hand so fast, too fast, and before I knew it, he was dead.
The worst part of all of this was probably the fact that he hadn’t seen it coming. He had been sleeping on my lap moments before he died. He had just fallen asleep after a really long talk – a good one – and then I had found a match buried in the sand where we were laying… It all went downhill from there.
I don’t even know what happened. I remember running my hands through his hair, thinking that it looked like a flame in the afternoon light, and then my eyes just remained there for the next who-knows-how-long. I looked at the match in my hand, and then suddenly it was lit. Naturally, my brain was fixated on the flame, and I wondered just what it would look like to see Jonah’s beautiful hair mixed with an actual fire.
He woke up, of course, screaming and rolling on the ground to put out the fire. All I recall was the anger that surged out of me at the sheer audacity. That flame was absolutely gorgeous, and he was trying to take it away from me. So, I did the only thing that made sense to me at the time: I took the still-burning match and threw it down his open mouth.
His shrieks of pain would echo in my mind forever. The intense agony that coloured each broken sound, accompanied by the miraculous flame consuming him from inside and out. I didn’t know that was even possible, from a small little matchstick, no less. But it happened.
And I would never forget it.
So here I was, standing over his dead body in the middle of the woods like every serial killer in the books. I had to completely burn his corpse, lest any evidence be found by lost hikers. After this…I didn’t know what I would do. I couldn’t go home, and I had nowhere else to go. All I had was my trusty lighter and ten bucks in my back pocket. Well, in hindsight, I probably should’ve taken Jonah’s credit card and cash, too, but I wasn’t really thinking about that as I suddenly had a dead guy in my arms.
After the ashes had cooled, after the last ember had faded away into the endless night, I let the wind take him away into the far corners of the planet.
I wouldn’t ever love again. I would never learn to love again.
I don’t think I’d want to. Not if it ends like this.
Ignis aurum probat.