Matchbox Dreams

Whatever was inside the matchbox was meant to burn.

Graham never took his eyes off of her, but whether she was really there he didn’t know. Was she real, red lips puffed out and black hair shining under a pale halo of sunlight? She couldn’t be real, there could be no sunlight in the darkness around them. Dreams have a tendency to give themselves away like that.

“Rose,” Graham reached out, but she tugged away from him. Her dress swirled into puffs of white cloud, her eyes laughed at him. She had this smirk on her face, the knowing smirk she always used to give him. “Rose, don’t leave yet,”

Despite everything his voice cracked. He swallowed hard and coughed, choking on his words: “What does this mean?”

She pulled her hand away from him, leaving him with the matchbox. “Rose, wait!” He cried but she backed up, and swirled away. One moment she stood ethereal before him. Then she turned and seemed to shimmer away, so all he could see were tufts of white smoke and pink clouds. Pink clouds like the light baby pink of her eyes, with all their magic and power and the tickling wisdom of the matchbox.

Graham blinked in the darkness, ignored the single beam of light shed above him. A spotlight, illuminating him in the center of this black stage. He took a deep breath and looked down at the matchbox.

It must be meant to burn, Graham thought, because everything else between the two of them had. He took in a deep breath, steeled the tower door in his heart. So whatever might be inside would not hurt him, would not cut him apart with the same ferocity she had.

Graham slid the matchbox open, and let out a pent breath of air.

It wasn’t new. It wasn’t a fresh betrayal or a bold scar. It was something he knew, a dry daffodil pressed and faded, yellow color leaked away centuries ago. Graham closed the matchbox and put it on the ground.

The smoke came from nowhere, and the flames licked at the matchbox, swallowing it.

Graham was right.

The flower was meant to burn.

-Grace T, May 2016