Matchbox

Flash
Olga Dermott-Bond


Photo Credit: maria_ffeb/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Before I light the match I take out the air freshener. It’s shaped like a pine tree and smells of damp toilet paper. Dull ridges dig into my palms as I watch from the rocks. The water’s edge is lit up, and sand’s shadows lick and flicker. I perch, shifting in my clammy jeans, so the damp doesn’t spread too quickly. Revenge is made of petrol fumes. Heat in front. Chill behind.

You were older. Navy jumper. Chain smoker. I heard jazz music, played on a muffled mistuned piano when you handed me your crooked smile. I was swayed by you. You were my imagined space between a new country and a cliff edge.

I push the empty can between my feet, a rhythmic hollow thud. I look up—the night sky is rancid milk. Scorched. Acrid. Stuck. I believed them, you see. The nicest words that anyone had ever said to me. Spoken to me inside that orange Ford Escort. On this beach. Windows fogged up with clichés.

I realised too late that your words were acrylic, stitched clumsily into your mouth, like the name labels inside my school socks that my mum had sewn in so carefully. Since then, you have seeped into everything I could have been. Stained the car seats, turned love into an itchy, sweaty memory of guilt and self-loathing, the opposite of fresh air.

My cardboard heart.

Huge plumes of black smoke are curling in waves from your car, being pushed down by the cold, then fighting back.

They look like my anger now.

pencil

Olga is originally from Northern Ireland and lives in England. A former Warwick Poet Laureate, she has had poetry and flash fiction published in a range of magazines including Rattle Magazine, Magma, Paper Swans Press, Reflex Fiction, Dodging the Rain, Fictive Dream and The Fiction Pool. In 2017, she was commended in the Winchester Poetry Prize and was recently commended in the British Army’s Writing Armistice Competition. Email: olgadermott[at]btinternet.com

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