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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.
From "Fire Song" by Ashley N. Hunter
This was as perfect an opportunity as I could hope for, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell him. Not like this. How do you tell your older brother how the fire sang to you, how you heard the song all the time, how you followed the song to the places it burned the best and the brightest? How you were in danger every moment, but that it made you feel alive? Worse, how did you tell him that you hoped you burned? I shook my head. “Just stay close to me.”
An island paradise, Tonga’s lush green of the trees and the roll of the mountains they covered spread out across every grain of dry land. The cold pit in my stomach returned, bitter punishment for denying my brother a chance to experience the beauty of a place I had been to three or four times, but this close to the volcano, my addiction drove me like a junkie behind the wheel. I didn’t care anymore about my dad, or my brother, or the overpriced advice my therapist fed me.
I only cared about the fire, the heat, and the song. Always the song.
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-five 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.
From "Fire Night" by J. Lee Strickland
The vesper marks the Changing. After sundown, the far hills will bloom with great fires as folks there match the coming cold and dark with light and heat. In past years, she and William climbed to where the rocky outcrop cleared the western trees to watch the far-off flickering display, fire heaped upon fire on hill heaped upon hill. Folks say it is a time when between this world and the other…
Is that where William is…? The other? A sudden gorge of sorrow clamps her throat as if a claw gripped her there.
She leans against the lichen-matted stones circling the well and squints against a tear. They first spoke at her mother’s well, William there to leave a tool he’d fixed.
What tool? She can’t recall more than a vague, long shape in deep-veined hands.
The words were nothing, ordinary things: she, offering a drink; he, grateful, praising Mother’s cherished well. But even then, she knew that he’d return, and she’d be there to greet him. So they were, like water mixed with water, until now.