“Black Around the Edges”
A small fire. A small, poetic gesture. Ashes, ashes we all fall down.
Morbid strains of that old rhyme tinkled in her head as she scattered the letters on the fire and watched them spark and glow. The wind smelled of pine and frost--clean and bright--and she hoped for some of that purity to claim her, once his words had been sent on their way in their own clouds of ash and cinders.
This newfound bitterness--she choked on it along with her own hair, swirling back at her from the fire. Before....when it was all new, when she felt newborn....she’d been the kind of person people looked to when they needed help seeing the bright side of things. The glass half full type. The tomorrow’s another day type.
So how did she end up here? The dawn hours of a wintry day, on a mountain’s peak, stoking a small fire and feeding it her past. Nothing ever indicated that she’d become THIS woman. Had she not always scorned this kind of dramatic emotional posturing in her other life?
She paused to add another page to the fire, watching its edges blacken, taking one last look at his words. The I love yous and all the small endearments that she now realized were as worthless as this charred paper. Clutching her diminishing pile of letters, and looking back... she realizes the warning signs that had been there, she’d just ignored them. Typical. How could she have ever let herself become so needy, so grasping? Was she so easily turned away from her self by a touch of sweetness?
With her eyes, she followed the path of one stray burning flag of paper as it whirled toward the trees . Her eyes fell on the low branch of a silvery aspen, on which perched a small bird--a mountain bluebird, with his proud silvery chest and cerulean feathers, a blue as pure as the most cloudless sky. Twittering his dawn greeting, welcoming the day, announcing himself.
She had to admire, and maybe even envy, both his beauty and his confidence, his assurance of his place in the world. She looked back to the still small fire, still catching.
It was not too late...She scrabbled to dig up piles of earth she could dampen the fire with. And after several minutes of panic and bloodied fingernails and flinging clods of dirt, the fire smoked and finally died.
The bluebird remained, quiet now. He seemed to be watching over her with approval, or so she imagined, and she understood how close she had come potential disaster. What if she had not been able to damp the fire? She shivered to imagine all the life around her and how she could have destroyed it with her misguided efforts.
It didn’t matter now.
She gave the bluebird a silent thank you and turned to make her way down the mountain and back to her self.