I burned my face off last night. At first, I thought I’d use a gasoline soaked rag, then remembered all the candles in my attic. I lit two of them. Once the flames had grown larger, I lifted them to my face, letting my skin slowly melt as I hummed in delight. Of course it hurt, but the agony was spiritual. It was the type of pain you are proud to endure, like dying a violent death for a lover.
My cat crept into the room just as my jaws were shrinking to the bone. She hissed when I looked in her direction, as if my deformation tormented her. If she could’ve spoke, I knew she would’ve said, “It is impossible to be this depressed, not when you were so beautiful!” “I’m all right. I like this, smelling and watching my DNA drip like a wound.” I replied, imagining she was talking to me.
The candles smelt like hazelnut and mold. They had been in the attic for 12 years. I remembered the reason they were there and laughed as the flames licked my face. My mother wanted me to burn the house down when I was nine. She despised my father, who used to torture her, and wanted to burn him up in the house while he was sleeping. “Light all these candles.” She directed me. “Once a fire starts, get out! I’ll be outside waiting for you.” I stayed in the attic two hours, waiting for the flames to spread and get out of control. They never did.
I went into my mother’s room that night and sobbed. The grief and horror on her face was so intense I covered my eyes. “I didn’t work, ma!” I whined. “I am a terrible boy.” She snatched me from the doorway and cried with me. I still feel nauseous when I think about the guilt of letting her down that day.
I picked up my cat and set her in my lap. “It’s no problem. I am not hurting so bad anymore.” I spoke to her, the orange hues of the burning wick illuming my skeletal face. The only flesh I had left was on my forehead. My cat dolefully meowed as I let the candle destroy the rest of my visage. I heard my mother weeping and saw her face in the wax, my pain making me hallucinate. “Yes, let it go up in smoke. You don’t have to run this time, burn with everything.” Horrified in my semi-conscious state, I started screaming, especially when I saw the flames had spread to my clothes and I was completely on fire. My cat that was running frantically in all directions had tiny patches of fire on her back. “No!” I roared, finding a monstrous strength somehow in my weakness as I saw her suffering.
I shoved my fist through the small window then quickly grabbed her. “My best friend, I love you so much!” I cried as I tossed her out. I made sure she landed on the ground before sinking to the floor and surrendering to the inferno. My wails were so full of misery that for a moment, I was afraid of the agony I was in. Then, just as the flesh on my hands began to peel from the bone, I remembered the romance of anguish, the same anguish my mother endured for several years due my incapability to start a small hell in the attic, and I smiled. “I did it, ma. It’s not a punishment; it’s a sacrifice to finally feel genuine solace.” There was a loud creaking noise. Someone was pulling the ladder to the attic down. “So you came to be ashes with me.” I drowsily moaned as a womanly silhouette came towards me. “Thank you.” The woman whispered as she held my burning body. “You’re welcome, dear mother.”
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