This is something a little different and off the wall for me. I know several of you also follow Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds blog. He throws out a flash fiction challenge on Fridays and normally I don’t play. But this week, because the week before was an opening line challenge, followed by picking one of those opening lines and using it as the first line of your flash fiction, I thought, “Why the hell not?!?” So anyway, I picked an opening line. And while I had 1000 words to play with, I stopped at 632 words in a story that’s way out there for me, but hey! It was fun. So…
I met a man made of smoke today. I should have pretended I didn’t see him. I should have kept my head down and kept walking. But I didn’t. I looked him in the eye. He looked back. The heartbreak in his eyes made my soul bleed.
I met a man made of fire yesterday. He swept the world clean behind me, singeing earth and air alike. “I am an equal opportunity arsonist,” he boasted. He reached out to touch me but I shied away from his fiery caress. While I craved the heat of him, he would leave nothing but pain in his wake. He laughed at me and roared away. “You don’t know what you’re missing,” he called back to me. I gazed at my hands then raised them to touch my face to make sure fire had not left his mark. I was still free. So I kept walking.
I met a man made of wood last week. Stiff, unyielding, he stalked this path at my side, muttering to himself, his words sounding like wind rustling through dried leaves. I thought him quite mad but offered him company during his solitary journey. When the path forked, he veered away, intent on a conversation I could not hear with another companion I could not see.
I met a man made of fog last month. He fell into step as his ephemeral fingers trailed along my cheek. We didn’t speak, simply walked along the leaf-strewn path until we neared the pond. Drifting away without a word, my heart clutched in loneliness as he passed me by. Until his touch, I didn’t know what I was missing.
I met a man made of snow last year. He’d lost his head and I paused to help him find it, patting it into place and adjusting his hat and glasses. He smiled though his coal-black eyes showed no emotion. Lost in his endless gaze, terror filled me, assuaging the hunger that had been there before. I turned to go, worried he would follow, but he was a man of snow, rooted to the spot by frozen joints. I didn’t run away though I wanted to, as fear nipped at my heels like a surly hellhound. Cold and numb, I wanted only to find warmth and a way to keep the hunger from returning.
And at the moment, I knew I had to walk this path. It was my destiny and fighting it would only stall the inevitable. So I walked and occasionally shared my journey with men of fog and wood and fire. When I traveled alone, I wondered if I would circle the earth and return to that man of snow, frozen to the land as he was. I hoped not. The darkness in his eyes would devour me and I would be lost.
Today I met a man made of smoke. And I fell in love. The cold hunger in my heart melted away. I was missing no part of me now. I could see and hear this companion, a prisoner of his pain. I was no longer free, caught in his smoldering feathers. I searched the land around me but fire had come and gone, leaving Smoke in his wake. Smoke, my soul mate. Desperate to join him, I built a pyre. Dropping to my knees, I dug through charred earth looking for a spark. And found it. Nursing it to life in my trembling hands, I climbed atop the pyre and placed the flame above my heart. Consumed by the heat, I cracked in two and my soul escaped.
Smoke smiled. “Hello,” he said. “I’ve been waiting a long time.”
I smiled in return. “As have I. Let us go make magic.”
My name is Mirror and I met a man made of smoke today.