Pyre For the Fallen: 1. Cleansing Fire

April 10, 2015

Memories hover at the edge of his reckoning, pensive and translucent, like waking dreams.

Shoulders hunched, he sticks his hands deeper into his pockets as he stares at the spot where he had found her wasted, lifeless body; a broken crack pipe clutched to her breast, her thin sundress soiled and frayed. Only a chalk outline remained of the girl he remembered as having once been a vibrant, hopeful, happy living being – before everything went sideways.

Gray light filters through a filthy window, washing the color from the trash filled room.  It stinks of gasoline.

“This is where dreams come to die,” he thinks as he pulls his hand from his pocket. It holds a plain white matchbook. He lights a match, then sticks it back among the unlit matches. Stock still he stares as the match slowly burns down toward the little red heads of its unburned brothers, uniform and stiff like soldiers on parade.

Dropping the matchbook on the floor, he turns and heads for the door. As he steps over the threshold, he hears the hiss of the matchbook igniting and the soft “whump” of the gasoline. For an instant his flat black silhouette is framed in the door by the orange backlight of the rapidly growing conflagration. Then he walks down the steps and onto the sidewalk, never once turning back to look at the burning crack house; a pyre to the fallen.

-DeRicki Johnson (@derickijohnson on Twitter)

[NOTE: This is a longer version of a story published at 101words.org. Stories submitted to 101 Words must be exactly 101 words in length, so I had to edit this original down in order to submit on their site. -dj]

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7 Responses to “Pyre For the Fallen: 1. Cleansing Fire”

  1. Glad to see your words here and on 101words my friend. Touching write, emotive read!!

  2. Elle said

    DeRicki, you told this story with such imagery and feeling that it crawled into my chest. What a powerfully painful telling of the throes of life that can so easily befall us, given just one wrong turn. I would love to read the full story, and more of your stories! I need to get myself over to 101 and practice my short fiction also. thanks for sharing this somber tale. It read just like a great book should. ♡

    • DeRicki Johnson said

      Thank you, Elle. Your encouragement means a lot to me as I stretch my wings in a new direction. I admit to feeling some trepidation at letting others read my dalliances with longer prose! 😉

  3. Elle said

    if you didn’t feel some “trepidation” you wouldn’t be an honest writer. never lose that feeling! 🙂

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