The fire

The following is fiction, but very relevant. See it as an experiment.

 

I always wanted a cabin like this. Constructed of stacked timber, with nothing but snow and reindeer outside the smallish window. It’s hot in here though, like a sauna. The blazing fireplace might have something to do with it. I’m not bothered by it, my thoughts are elsewhere right now. I don’t even wonder about my rather stylish clothes and glass of Cointreau between my fingers. Then finally, I hear the door and the person I had been waiting for, enters from the blizzard. I turn my head just enough to make myself heard.

“You’re late.” I refrain from adding, “As usual.” Still, it sounded sharper than I meant it.

-“Traffic.” Her voice sounds equally harsh, and I assume it was just as unintentional.

I let out a short, joyless chuckle. A woman. Figures. And a redhead too, I notice, as she walks into sight and takes a seat in the chaise opposite mine. She is gorgeous, and a familiar awkwardness steals over me. I angle my eyes towards the fire so I don’t have to look her in the eyes. As if to the flames, I do the talking.

“I was hoping this encounter would mean as much to you as it does to me. I would have stayed for days if necessary. I’m sorry to see it isn’t mutual.” I can never be angry for long, especially with her. Immediately, I am done scolding her. “I hope you are well.” Who talks like that? I glance her way to see her nod in thought.

“Can’t complain. Life as usual, you know?” She’s damn right I know. That unfulfilling bore of a life. Out there, in the cold. I don’t want to be reminded. Luckily her casual outfit, tight enough to hug her skin, provides some distraction. Still I don’t know what her face looks like, I can’t bring myself to going there.

-“Nothing special? No one making it… unusual, for you?”

-“Don’t you start,” she bites. “I don’t expect you to be happy for me but spare me your jealousy.”

I grunt and look down at my glass. I don’t even drink alcohol. Swirling the liquor around, I blow gently over the rim. Alcohol sticks to the sides, increasing the surface area, which, along with the increased ventilation, should make for a quick evaporation and leave a much less potent drink behind. I realize that most likely, “they” have already worked up a formula that would at least approach the effect of each of these factors. I would lose interest at first sight of it. Thinking like this makes me fear for my sanity, sometimes. Brandon, that babyfaced whore, had no idea what he was saying when he told his entourage, “Yes, I’m a little crazy sometimes.” Son of a bitch.

“We fight a lot, don’t we.” I had my words ready minutes ago but hadn’t worked up the guts to address the real problem. Another awkward silence follows. “I wish we didn’t. Look- it’s hard without you. I know you’re here, but I can’t connect. I miss you so bad, it’s paralyzing. You’re everywhere, yet nowhere to be found.” I’m repeating myself now, so I shut up. There’s a dark little poet inside me that never managed to grow up. It’s embarrassing.

-“I’m not the one who needs to change in order to-“

-“I know that, already! I fucking,… already know that.” My voice breaks up as I bark at her. “You’re not very helpful either, are you. I can’t even tell if you’re interested in any of this.” She sets her jaw and I can tell my words are hurting her, but I’ve reached that point where I no longer care. She is so incredibly difficult to read. Even though I am looking straight at her now, I still fail to see her clearly. Giving up, I bring my glass to my lips. The disgusting taste makes me feel like an idiot, but since it’s alcohol I am allowed to drink it without being thirsty, and the urge to buy an excuse not to speak is too strong. She catches me staring at the pelt on the floor, and reads my mind as easily as she tends to.

“You men are all the same.” She rolls her eyes.

-“You know I’m not. You know the difference.” My glare forces me to face her again.

-“Yes, yes. How selfless you are in your egocentric need.”

I set down my glass, and stand. “Time for me to go.” She knows she is the reason, but does not protest as I turn my back. It makes me hesitate as I reach the door. Part of me wishes I could keep her forever, but the realization that I never had her to begin with, brings my hand up to push the door open. With the first step in the endless cold, the whole building disappears soundlessly behind my back, and with it, its warmth. But I know that the fire won’t die, no matter what. Between frustration and regret, I am glad that these moments still provide some heat to go on with. Urgently so, because my alarm clock is two steps away.

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