We fell in love like how forest fires start: slowly and then all at once. And all consuming, too. It was enough force to incinerate everything around us, but it wouldn’t have mattered to us, as long as we were together.
When I first met Fire, I knew they were the one for me. I couldn’t tell what was more alluring: the soft crackle of the flames, the orange, warm glow they cast on me, literally and metaphorically, or the thousand colors that danced in the smoke. I couldn’t hold back a gasp, but I quickly disguised it as a cough from the suffocating smoke. My bark shook with emotion and fear as Fire approached me. “Are you okay?” They asked, the concern in their voice melting me.
“I’m fine.” I whispered. and so are you. like, hella fine. I thought privately.
Fire inched closer. I experienced a feeling inside quite like the one I felt last summer when termites crawled into my trunk and started to eat me from the inside, except this feeling was somehow welcome. I couldn’t stop imagining myself warm and cozy inside the safe flicker of Fire’s embrace. It was strange, a sort of pain tinged with pleasantness. My imagined future with fire was setting, well, a fire inside of my soul.
“So…” Fire said. Could I detect a stutter? The termites seemed to be eating at my chest. “Would you like to..um…well, I don’t know, come listen to, Fall Out Boy with me? like, maybe, I don’t know… It is fine if you don’t. Not that I don’t want you to listen with me!” They added quickly. “I just want you to know you have, like, options…” They trailed off.
“No! I mean, yes! I mean,” I blushed, and then said decisively, “I would love to listen to Fall Out Boy with you.”
“That’s flaming brilliant!” I saw the flames turn a brighter shade of red almost instantaneously. I shifted as close as I dared to Fire and turned up the music. Be careful making wishes in the dark dark The radio blared. I tried to listen to the lyrics but I was too distracted by Fire. I couldn’t help but wish for the night to end well. “I love this song.” I said quietly.
“What’s that?” Fire asked, leaning in even closer to hear. I could feel their heat spreading over my left side.
“I love this song!” I said again.
“Me too,” They replied. “You have good taste.”
We were silent for a moment, and the chorus began. SO LIGHT EM UP, UP, UP, LIGHT EM UP, UP, UP, LIGHT EM UP UP UP ON FIRE!
And suddenly Fire was all around me. My outside was entirely up in flames and I didn’t care. I could feel my rough exterior dissolve into this embrace. So this was love: letting go of barriers and becoming vulnerable to erosion and termite infestation.
“I love you.” Fire said.
“I love you too.” I said.
These were the last words we spoke to each other. I do not regret our declarations of love, even if they ended only in oblivion. We remained in each other’s arms until the inevitable end, where I was burnt to a crisp and fire flickered out after consuming me. But it is okay, because every time someone strikes a match, our love story is reignited. Literally.