Today I turn twenty-seven. Facebook has reliably informed me that it has been forty days since my last blog. I have since convinced myself that this is because I have been far too busy doing things to have time to write about them. However I have somewhat ended up with many half -finished projects which I will post here at a later date.
However as it’s been a while here is a piece of flash fiction:
The log burner cracks then falters, the room darkens as bright yellow flames dim to a faded orange. ‘Fire’s dying Will.’ Elizabeth says glancing up from her book. Her husband grunts a reply and pokes at the cindered logs with an old iron fire poker. Grey ash falls away to reveal bright red burning embers. The room brightens. ‘Thank you.’ he shrugs taking fresh wood from the pile. The day was long, tiring and too many boxes remained full. They had a sofa, an armchair and most importantly a great big log burner. It’s one of the reasons Elizabeth fell for the house. The prospect of unpacking all day tomorrow didn’t seem as daunting so long as she spent the evening curled up with a book beside the crackling fire.
A brisk wind batters the window and the fire sputters. Still embers burst to life hitting Will in the face. Logs scatter as he staggers back.
‘Jesus, What happened?’ Elizabeth stands and places a careful hand on her husband’s chin, examining the damage. The embers have faded to ash but Will’s face is covered in angry raised white spots.
‘We need to get some water on that.’ He nods as Elizabeth leads him slowly away, taking a long look back to the fire. The garish electric light of the kitchen is almost unbearable, Elizabeth runs the tap over folded kitchen roll, the old plumbing knocks and gurgles.
‘I think we might need to go to the emergency room, these look pretty bad.’
‘That shouldn’t have happened.’ William says as she dabs his cheek.
‘It was just the wind, don’t worry about that now. how do you feel?’
‘It was not the wind. Unlike you my dear I know how log burners work, the flue was shut.’
‘Maybe the wind was too strong?’
‘He pulls away, ‘I should go check the fire.’
‘You’re going to need ointment.’ she calls but he’s already walked away. biting the inside of her cheek Elizabeth pulls out her phone, and searches for Burns first aid. ‘Hey, hun, we’re meant to keep cold water on your face for at least ten minutes.’ She slips her phone back into her pocket.
Her forehead furrows when she doesn’t even receive his customary grunt. ‘William, can you come back please, I don’t think you should be playing about with the fire, they say to keep away from heat.’ head still reading the article she walks to the sitting room. ‘Did you hear anything I just said?’ Elizabeth looks up, the fire is out and her eyes are slow to adjust to see the hunched figure of her husband, She places a careful hand on his shoulder. His clothes burn hot and she snatches her hands away. too much ash smothers her fingers as she struggles to comprehend the gaping hole in her husband’s shoulder. She kneels to his side, and touches his too pale face. her finger leaves a hole. A crack runs along his cheek before his face slips away like grey ash. The husk that once was Elizabeth’s husband falls in a halo of ash around a shining lump of embers.
With shaking lips and a dry mouth she stares at the embers. They move. A shape forms, little hands curled around bent knees. licks of vibrant hair falls in curls. the brightness fades to reveal a naked little girl, pale as ash with fiery red hair and coal-black eyes. Elizabeth does not move. bare toes, the colour of hot iron, curl around the sooty remains of Elizabeth’s husband. The child stands, fast as a flickering candle. Her skin shifts from burning red to a soft flame yellow.
She smiles and reveals pointed white teeth.
‘I’m cold, will you light the fire?’