It is unknowing.
Most of us hope to experience a great love to last the rest of our lives, but none of us really know if we will find it. We might think we have it, only to find out how fragile it falls alongside the not-quite-finished school project still warm with glue, or maybe it falls between our fingers with a donut’s powder. Our moment to find it might be sparse, a moment falling too short of a Popsicle’s lifespan in the hands of a child in the sand. Have we found it? We may not know. We might not realize it until the glue hardens, the powder stops falling, and the Popsicle has long been melted. It may be standing in front, behind, or beside us, holding out its hand and eager to continue this seemingly eternal flame.
The Main Event
Our eyes, minds, awareness were blinded by the light. We started the fire with a single match, a single moment, a single breath. It burned hot–almost too hot at first. We could feel the heat intensifying as we carefully approached it and allowed it to radiate upon our fragile skin. Once we realized we could stand before it without receiving a burn, though, we danced. We danced around it while our hands intertwined, interlaced with naivety and unaware of the harm gently lying before us.
Laughter arose higher than the smoke climbing toward the stars–evidence of lives much greater than ours. We can imagine ourselves looking down upon this scene and gaze at its deep simplicity. Was it ever truly simple, though? We dreamed of lives in which we hoped to live, but we remained ever unaware of the actualities of our trances engulfed with ecstasy: Happiness never greeted them in their ends. Death, instead, approached them. Its scythe sharpened as if preparing for the ultimate dividing cut. Once the flames died–as they tend to do–and the smoke clothed us in its suffocating warmth, we stole the scythe in order to poke and prod the dying remnants of past happiness. Eventually, we unearth the flames, and we welcome them while they emit their magical brilliance, their comforting embrace, and their desire to wrap around us until our last breaths.
The Great Demise
What, then, do we do when these flames cause our last breaths? How do we face the great demise of what we thought was an eternal flame? What happens, when amidst the smoke, it is us who creates the divide with a single swift move of the scythe? We find ourselves overwhelmed by the all-consuming smoke, while it buries itself deep within our throats and attaches itself to the walls of our lungs. Discomfort turns into the coughing up of poisonous smoke while our bodies try to fight the toxins. We try to reattach ourselves, but the damage has been done. Separation increases the anxiety. Coughing then turns into an act of trying to stifle the obvious distress. We cannot let those around us realize our departure after our seemingly blissful dance around the flames. They always knew we would get too close and become too entranced by the flames dancing alongside us, burning within us. They knew it would cause our great departure–our grand escape.
Coughing never ceases.
Pain only increases.
Arrays of medicine can sooth the sting and attempt to heal the wound, but only for a short while until we realize what made us dance also made us perish alongside the sticky puddle of Popsicle flesh surrounding our feet.
Lauren is a Ball State University alumna with a Bachelor's degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. She enjoys breakfast for dinner with a side of literary enjoyment.