Flash fiction project: one dark story per day, all the way through October, each one based on one normal thing gone wrong. More of this year’s stories here.  You can find last year’s stories here, or at Amazon as October Nights.

Normal thing:  Bonfires


…A bronze plate etched with patterns, the kind of big metal platter that you get at a Turkish restaurant, out in the back yard, a pile of letters on it, a box of matches and a slight breeze.  The letters are from your ex.  He says, “I expect you to burn all my letters out of respect.”  What he really means is: The least you could do is let me express one more act of control over you.  But you’ve always been a bit of a pyromaniac. You watch the letters burn and feel nothing but joy for a moment.  Then you spend years trying to believe you’ve actually escaped.

…A bonfire in the woods by the river when you were counting on solitude in the dark; you’re not supposed to go anywhere alone at night because of the rape scares, but you already know that it’s not strangers who you need to be wary of.  The real predators like to sniff around you first, to make sure you won’t resist.  You circle around the frat boys and they go silent. You might be the cops.  You might be bigfoot.  You have to be one or the other.  They joke about it.

…Out in a field under a harvest moon with a boy, the bonfire of the party an orange glow over the hill, your body burns up, you crave nothing more than to be destroyed, used, hurt, anything—you know no words for lust but those of suffering and punishment.  Unfortunately what is summoned is only wet ashes, still smoldering with annoyance the morning after, and a sharp piece of straw inside your pants that you can’t get out, digging into your leg all during class.  “Where did you go last night?” they ask, “What did you do?”

…He calls after midnight on weekends, and you know he made fun of you behind your back in high school and that he’s drunk now, and you say, “When you get the balls to talk to me when it’s daylight and you’re sober, then we’ll see” and he doesn’t. You learn to get used to this, the overexaggerated fear of a woman’s displeasure, this secret, ongoing mockery.  The rape jokes, the jokes about being pussy-whipped, not even a breath between them.  They’re boys with spears around the ritual fire, chanting that bitch, that bitch, who either did or did not give me what I want.

…You remember: burning trash in a barrel out in the gravel driveway, poking it with sticks, inviting it to burn your arm hair, tossing in leaves, pieces of paper, dead grass, live grass, watching the print on advertisements and Christmas wrapping paper flame up green and blue.  But now you don’t trust candles, you don’t trust incense, you never leave anything, no matter how contained, lit at night.  It’ll be fine.  Will it?  Don’t you know what fire is like? One moment it’s your slave, and the next it burns down barns, fields, haystacks, trees, cattle, cats—the water in the rural firetruck is frozen because it’s February—just because it’s cold doesn’t mean it isn’t dry tinder, ready to burn.

Dark, strange, twisted, and wonderful – #paranormal #horror and #mystery stories from Wonderland Press.