Playing with Fire
Christine Gitchell

This could be me. In the backyard waiting for the rain to come. Instead it only hails. Under the apple tree a great grandfather planted. White crystals spread around the apple tree like a halo. That picture of a dead grandmother that hangs on every door in the house that is now burning in front of me. Picture orange. Waiting for blue. Heat is visible here. Sit the matches, the kerosene, the rubber duck from the claw-foot tub from the once upstairs on the ground. Where I put everything that doesn’t belong. Walk to the fence. Never turn back.

Six hours and two cartwheels later find myself a real job. Not at a place that caters to albumen swimming in cases, but one with an actual dress code. Become proud. Find a man who loves me. He should wear button down shirts, which make him look like a hero. Shorten the fuse. Light the switch. Make him beg for cinder. He calls himself Pyroboy, but his dad always called him faggot and never let him forget that only idiots call themselves boys and play with fire.

Help him install the air conditioner when the temperature makes him sweat. Sticky thighs, salt on his button down. He was a human furnace, I call him Hotstuff. When we turn on the gas oven he drips in splits and uses his thighs like honey to keep me pinned. Throw in the broccoli but sometimes miss the flame, his skin warms. Nothing is truly missed. Everything turns to char around him. When we make love, wear ass-less chaps, rubber, heat resistant. Watch his hands glow red.

“Want crème brulee,” he asks. Hand over the sugar, caramelizing to his touch.

“I know the way to the cape. When I was little we would walk there and slide down the dunes.”

“Sand turns to glass under extreme heat.”

“When the world ends everything will be made of glass,” I say. Kissing him.

In the middle of the night he likes to clean. When I wake up to pee he will be in the living room gathering dust in his hands. The window open, dust compressed, bursts of light. He would make stars and let them float out the window to their place in the sky.

Say, “beautiful.”

“Someday I will destroy this earth,” he says. Picture flowers burning, grass black, heat rising to skies.

Walk to the store in the morning for coffee and scones. Buy one scone for $1.65 and every additional is $1.00, a deal I can’t pass up. When he metabolizes he burns hotter. Star building takes a lot of energy. He eats a lot. In the morning he curls up next to the cat and they sleep all day.

Arrange the flowers, set the table, eat breakfast for dinner. Eggs, bacon, heated on a scone. Calories covered in frosting. If Pyroboy doesn’t work out I will have to hit the gym. Need to stop morphing into the men I date.

“Tonight I am going to make the biggest star ever.”

“As big as a whale?”

“As big as a thousand.”


“You will see.”

I never saw. No one saw anything because a black hole is like the name. Black. So I light a match to see and never get married in the house of grandfathers. Spend my time with the wrong men. Men named Pyroboy. Not because of his compassion, kindness, gentility. But because he is good looking. Sometimes love can be a black hole. Impossibly small. A point.

Christine Gitchell lives with her husband and cat in a tourist town where they serve donuts to snow birds.