From "Consumed" by Lorraine Sharma Nelson
Déjà vu assailed him. Why did she look so familiar? Before he realized what he was doing, Vijay crossed the street, dodging scooters, cows, and tuk-tuks, the tiny cabs that permeated the city.
An overcrowded bus honked at him just as he reached the sidewalk.
And she was gone. Frowning, Vijay searched the square, the dazzling array of women in colorful saris weaving in and out of the crowd. But none of them were her.
She couldn’t have gotten far.
Who cares who she was anyway?
He had things to do.
He bought two butter naans and a steaming-hot cup of chai, which he ate at the beach, away from the crush of humanity.
The film cast and crew were gone. He sat on a sand dune and enjoyed his breakfast in relative peace and quiet. Still early, the beach would soon be packed with people, and he would move on.
As he popped the last piece of naan into his mouth, the woman from earlier appeared by the water, the surf crashing around her bare feet and ankles.
And she was watching him.
BURN, BABY, BURN
Capable of creation and destruction, fire burns within us.
Behind the thick, black smoke of our lives, we blaze with our own unique flame.
While love compels some, others feed greed and lust into their hearths.
A tool for the deft hand, used with magic or as a weapon, but irresponsibility leaves deep burns and promises dreadful consequences.
ON FIRE brings to light twenty-six tales that explore this unpredictable yet beautiful element.
Handle with care.
From "Désolé Habibti" by Ali Abbas
She shuddered, recalling with a sickening lurch the last time he had used those words.
“Yes, I lied. I could have brought the King of Kings the throne of Sheba in an hour; I could heal every filthy corpse in this room. But tell me,” his breath seared her neck; beads of sweat ran through the roots of her hair. “Tell me, what truth do I owe my captors? What compassion should I have for their restraint that has kept me chained?”
His fingers closed even tighter, she could not turn, she could not stand, and she could not run. “I am fire, and you are clay. I have matched your restraint, minute for minute for a thousand years. Should not every flicker of my being demand I rend you all limb from limb, that I take justice for your oppression of me?”
From "Chrysopoeia" by Megan Dorei
He could not help her.
Even then, she knew it.
She backed away, her feet leaving scorch marks on the bamboo vinyl, and begged him not to come closer. Tears welled and evaporated in a dizzying cycle. But closer he came, sugared voice and cunning eyes.
She couldn't stop what was happening.
He threatened to take her to the lab.
She shook her head no, too anguished to speak.
He grabbed her, and the last of her restraint shriveled in the cannon burst of her defiance.
Blinding fire gripped her, combustion held together by bones, nuclear and radiant.
She was going to destroy everything.