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It was a pleasure to burn.
“It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”
-Part of Kurt Cobain’s suicide note.
It was, indeed, a pleasure to burn. Every time I struck a match, I watched with wonder as a flame sprung to life, as if out of thin air. My pulse would beat faster and faster as I watched the tiny fire burn its way through a piece of paper, leaving nothing but a smoldering hole and turning what it had touched to ashes. How many sheets of paper did I go through in a month? How many nights did I stay awake, silently striking matches over and over, willing them to stay lit forever. Of course, they did eventually burn themselves out. All good fires did.
I don’t know when I started doing it. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t, but of course, there must have been a time in my life when I didn’t have the courage or the necessary materials. As I pulled the Bic lighter out of my pocket, I paused for a minute to take in the stinging scent of gasoline. It made me delightfully light headed. A tiny movement of my hand and the fire had started. At first, I panicked. My beautiful embers seemed to be dying! Had I lit it too soon after last night’s rain? Had I given it enough fuel to fill its starving belly? I needn’t have worried. The fire finally seemed to catch on the rotting wood of the abandoned apartment and then the real fun started. I lingered a second more with my creation before sadly jogging away. It wouldn’t do to be caught.
From a safe distance of about a block away, I inhaled the sweet perfume of smoke. I couldn’t look away from the creature I had given birth to. I couldn’t see much of the flames yet, but the smoke, my baby’s breath, rose like a pillar into the sky, a monument to the power of fire. Suddenly, a scream interrupted my contemplations.
“Help me! My Pokemon! Somebody please help!”
Oh, fuck. I ran back to the base of the building to see a little old lady wearing a dress covered in floral print. She smelled faintly of cat urine and antibacterial soap. She kept screaming something about a Pokemon that was stuck in her apartment. Against my better judgment, I approached her.
“Miss, what does your Pokemon look like?”
The old woman was too distressed to do anything but shout random words at me. “Help! Loki! Please help my Pokemon, young man!”
I sighed and looked at the burning building in front of me. I suppose it was time to face the beast I had created. As I crept closer to the blaze, the roar of the fire drowned out all other noises. Every instinct told me to turn around and run away, but I couldn’t. I wouldn’t let myself. Stepping inside the apartment was probably the equivalent of stepping into the bowels of hell. The smoke made it nearly impossible to see anything and I began to choke on it. I quickly pulled my shirt on it and wrapped it around my face, using it as a filter. I dropped to my knees and began crawling on the floor.
“Here, little Pokemon,” I tried to call, but all that got out was a scratchy sounding cough.
The heat was intense. Never before had I experienced anything like it, not while setting other fires, not while training under Blaine, not even when I burned myself in my darkest moments. No, this was different. The heat seemed to come in waves, pushing me backwards, but I struggled forward against them. Maybe this was the end. How ironic could it get? Death by fire, and not just any fire, but my fire, the one I had raised from a single spark to a towering inferno. Killed by my own kin; it was almost poetic.
Even half dead from smoke inhalation, the sudden sound made my head snap around. The Seedot must have been close. Otherwise, I would have never been able to hear it over the sound of the collapsing building. There! Hiding under the remains of a table about a foot away, the tiny acorn Pokemon was trembling.
“It’ll be alright little buddy,” I said and gently scooped it up into my hands. My arm bumped against the leg of the metal card table and I yelped. I could feel my flesh blistering and I quickly scooted away from the table. I looked around. How far was the exit? I wasn’t thinking well. Everything was…fuzzy. I crawled forward, much more slowly now. The Seedot was barely making any noise. I had to….So close. I could see the light up ahead. Now I was in the clear. The air was a little bit easier to breathe here. Just a bit more….A hand reached through the doorway and I placed the Seedot in it without waiting to see if the Pokemon was even still breathing. I sucked in a breath of fresh air and then-
“AGH!” I screamed as something incredibly hot pinned me to the floor. I tried to squirm out from under it, but I couldn’t move, couldn’t feel my body. Or rather, I could feel it, I just couldn’t make it respond. I sure as hell felt the burning. I screamed again. It was so unfair….I had been so close, only to be stopped by a couple of beams from the ceiling.
“Seedot, seed,” I heard from outside. At least the Pokemon was safe. I suppose…if I had to die, this is the way I would choose: by fire. I would rather be turned to ashes than die alone in a hospital bed. I guess it’s true what they say: “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” I screamed again and closed my eyes…