I am emptying the fireplace ashes so you can make a fire to seduce me. There’s a pile of tossed bills to be burnt because they have information someone might steal. Our signatures. The pile suggests, via nonrelativistic classical mechanics, a closed system: paper made from wood, wood burning paper. No rock. Maybe a pair of scissors is lying around here somewhere. I am filling the bag as fast as possible because seductions are time-sensitive. The height, the weight, the heat, all are factors. Over the bag a cloud forms, sly and ashy, solid remnants of the once mobile. The signature of a fire. The faster I empty the ashes, the faster the ash cloud moves like that mist we drove into yesterday while we were arguing about metabolic syndrome. We were leaving the mountain and going into the valley. The mist arrived so quickly, began to rise and fall around us. We had fallen into farm country and there was a winter field, half of it rolling in dark like ground crows, the other half wearing luminous rollers like hair from the fifties. At the sight we touched hands, yours were super cold and mine were burning up. That’s the difference in our metabolic syndrome. The bag is almost full. Experience proves that if I put this in the recycling bin, it will still be there in the afternoon with a stern note from the trash man. I have longed to write him back: wasn’t this ash once paper and wood, items which can be recycled? Please explain. Explain this bag full of trees transformed into a rising film. Don’t just give me a pamphlet with a checkbox. I’d prefer to hold such a note, standing in the street in my negligee, from the root of the verb to neglect. I’d hope to look like someone from that Aerosmith video that would be deeply problematic today. Still we’re all trying to be seduced. The sight of that field is in me and in you. Burn it up.
Merridawn Duckler is a writer from Oregon, author of INTERSTATE (dancing girl press) and IDIOM (Washburn Prize, Harbor Review) She won the Jewish in Seattle fiction contest and the Elizabeth Sloan Tyler Memorial Award from Woven Tale Press, judged by Ann Beattie. Recent flash in New Flash Fiction, No Contact, Janus, Door is A Jar, Miracle Monocle. She’s an editor at Narrative and the international philosophy journal Evental Aesthetics.
“Blaze” was the winner of our 2021 CNF Flash Contest, judged by Heather Christle.