“Tragedy” by Jolie Wolff

    I am born on a Sunday evening. A candle left unattended near paper curtains. I am soft at first, just waking up and remembering who I am. But oh, so hungry, and I must find food before I disappear. I take the curtains and warp the rods, turning them red with my heat. I am a growing blaze, finding aging wallpaper and wooden furniture, licking up strewn newspapers and books stacked near the television. Ash fills the air and I am still starving. 

    I run up the stairs, leaving a trail of embers in my wake. Pictures fall off the walls and glass shatters; I find a carpet at the top that disappears quickly. A closed door tastes like cedar wood and the hinges burn red. Two elders sleep in the room down the hallway, but they do not wake before my smoke has filled their lungs. They perish peacefully, lying in each others arms, and do not scream when I reach them.

 I leave melted spectacles on the charred bedside table. Glass has only ever tasted like pain. 

    A younger man is in the only other bedroom, and he wakes with a shout. I am at his door, and he foolishly burns himself on the knob. He has no carpet for me to slide under, so I eat my way through the wood and force myself into his room. He has so many flammable things; books, magazines, clothing, so much food. I eat and consume and leave scorch marks in my wake and all the while he is just … screaming. 

It only gets louder as I reach him. His clothes taste like sweat, his hair like dirt, but his skin is sweet and young. 

    I die on a Monday morning, before the sun has crested the horizon. There are men working to repair what I have damaged but they will find no life here. Behind shaking hands the people whisper my name and the man’s, as if he was dancing with me rather than weeping, howling. I am tragedy. And I wait to be born anew.

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