Weeks had passed since the fire, but the traces it left lingered in her hair, on her skin. No matter how many times she bathed or how hard she scrubbed, it made no difference.
At night, when she closed her eyes, movie-like images reappeared with scenes of red and orange and yellow, dancing like serpents and spirits. Bright tongues of flame tasting the air, lashing at her skin. Like a great beast, bellowing out smoke with every exhale and every inhale crackling with the smell of aged paper and leather bindings. It was what she imagined it would be like in the belly of a dragon, of those fantastic creatures that lived in many of the books that lay in ruins around her. Even against the black of her eyelids, the fire sprang to life. Curling and undulating like the many headed monster, Hydra. It rose, creeping over bookshelves, scorching talons sinking into brittle wood. The sprinklers fighting and failing to put out the inferno.
She opened her eyes, the memory circling only in her mind. Pressing a lock of her hair to her face, she inhaled deeply. She wondered, secretly, if she wanted the scent to leave her. Even as smoke filled her lungs, the fire pulsing like the heartbeat of a giant, everything threatening to engulf her. In the moments before she could have died, she felt the sparks of the flames within her ignite. She was exhilarated. Of every other moment in her life until then, there was never one that made her feel greater than being surrounded by all that only wished for her death.
She breathed in the scent again, unable to let go of that night, addicted to the clarity it brought her. Wishing longingly to return to the belly of the beast that nearly destroyed her.
I hope you enjoyed this. I want to write more short narratives or stories in the future so please let me now what you think!
Until next time,