Light My Fire

by Coyote Southbridge

This was neither the time nor the place.

Henry could see the tension rippling in her shoulders as she carefully pulled the flares from her pocket. She deliberately eyed him as she lit each one and placed it along the shoulder of the abandoned roadway, pausing briefly to wipe the drizzling rain from her face.

“Lily, I’ve got to tell you something.”

“Now? Can’t it wait? I’d like to get this flat off before the tow truck arrives.”

“It’s just…”

“’Just’ what? Are you ‘just’ sorry for running over that tree branch? Or maybe you ‘just’ feel like an idiot for not getting the spare patched. Perhaps it’s that you ‘just’ wish that we weren’t going to miss my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary because you couldn’t keep your damn eyes on the road. ‘Just’ isn’t going to get us out of here, now is it?”

Anger emanated from her pores like waves of heat, or maybe it was the mist. This was a bad idea.

She snatched the tire iron from him and crouched in the mud next to the wheel well. He could hear the gravel crunch under her shoes as she steadied herself with one hand against the front passenger side of the car. She wedged the flat lever end under the edge of the hubcap and yanked. The burnished circle dislodged with a metallic pop sending Lily flying onto her backside. She slammed a muddy fist into the ground.

Definitely a bad idea.

But then again he was the king of bad ideas, or so Lily had told him. Repeatedly. Henry took a deep breath.

“I’ve been having an affair.”

Silence.

“Its been going on for awhile. Nobody you know. I don’t know how it happened.”

He took a deep breath, waiting for her reaction. Lily stared into rain looking at nothing. There was no going back now. This was not a time for excuses.

“That’s a lie. I know exactly how it happened. It happened because you are a nagging bitch. You can’t stand my job. You can’t stand my presence. I’m pretty sure you can’t stand the sound of my voice since you wince every time I open my mouth. You have denigrated my existence for the past six years and I’m sick of it. I’d say we’ve lost our spark, but I’m not sure we have ever had anything but wet matches. Sophie makes me feel like I’m worth something. At least she doesn’t think I’m some sort of blight sent here to torture her every waking moment. When that tow truck drops us off at the mechanic I am taking a taxi home. I am packing my things and I am leaving. You can have the house, the car.  Hell keep the damn dog for all I care, but we’re through.”

God that felt good.

He was nearly giddy. He had finally seized the reins of his runaway life. Lily was sitting there, ass deep in mud and road debris, and he finally had the upper hand. He waited defiantly; daring her to try and destroy the high ground he had made for himself.

Lily just sat there; chest heaving as she visibly struggled to control her breathing. He watched and waited as the stillness grew, becoming almost tangible in the patter of rainfall. She closed her eyes slowly. Her fist clenched around the iron in her hand.

Henry saw her shift microscopically. The weight of the calm shattered with a nearly audible snap. Her eyes flew open and she stared at him with an unnerving sense of purpose.

It was suddenly very cold.

Lily flew at him from the ground, shoving him with fury-fueled anger. He tumbled onto his back, trying to catch himself on his elbows, but the attack had happened too quickly. His head bounced against the ground, stunning him.

She straddled him, pinning his arms between her knees, his back squelching in the mud. Lifting her arms above her head, the tire iron clamped between her white-knuckled fists, she bellowed as she drove the metal stake into his chest.

Everything slowed down. Henry could feel the tension of his skin pushing back against the chiseled edge. He felt the pop as his flesh gave way to the pressure, slicing. The iron paused for a fraction of a second as it hit his sternum, but it slipped sideways scraping along the bone until it found purchase between his ribs. The spade carved into his lungs driving air and blood from his mouth and nose. It grazed against his spine, and through his back, pinning him to the ground.

Henry stared mutely at the iron and then at Lily. Grabbing the shaft, she wrenched the iron from his chest, twisting as she pulled. Never breaking his gaze, her eyes gleamed wildly as she smiled at him. She reached into her pocket and slowly pulled out a flare. She popped the lighter cap off the end. Her grin grew wider as she leaned over and whispered softly into his ear.

“Here’s your goddamn spark.”

She struck the flare, igniting the end into a small fireworks display and shoved it into the sucking hole in his chest. Henry struggled futilely against her, lacking the strength to push her off. The flame blinded him, burning his face and chest. He could smell his hair smoldering as he drew in short breaths gargling the blood that filled his lungs.

It had begun to rain in earnest now, taunting him as the sparks singed his face.


Coyote Southbridge is the right brain manifestation of a left brained scientist who tries to achieve balance in her world through creative expression. This is her first published piece.


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