the lady sets flame

The nearly-old woman had rowed across an entire ocean.

Sick of water and the hyena laughs of seagulls’ cries, she found herself dreadfully lonely. A certain kind of lovely ennui.

Upon finally reaching a shore, she steps onto land.

Snatching up and opening her waterproof satchel, she snaps off her final dry match from the little book.

Striking the head, the lady sets the flame to the first tree she sees.

The limbs swallow it and ignite.

The fire brigade arrives, as hoped, her bidden welcome wagon heeding its combusted summons.

They were upset.

“You seem upset. It’s just a trick I learned from the matchstick boys,” she shrugs.

Kids soon arrive to witness the hullabaloo. The fragrance of the fire turns to a stinking reek, as they throw garbage to feed the pyre. Glass, aluminum, become explosives, followed by bombs of pubescent giggling.

“Why are you here?” the exasperated chief inquires.

“Because you have land here.”

“What?”

“Because the ocean thrust me here.”

“Why were you on a rowboat in the ocean to begin with?!”

“I was exiled from another strip of land for starting fires. Shall I grab a bucket of water? I’ve experienced putting them out, too. Water? Wood? I can carry six of one and a half dozen of the other.”

“Matchstick boys teach you that, too?” asks the chief.

“No. Priapus protects them against prosecution. They never developed a taste for accountability.”

“And, you did?”

“Yes, chief. I’m an honest fire bug,” she says.

She reaches into the camisole grasping her breasts and slides out a demure rectangle. Opening her copper cigarette case, she removes one and waggles the rest at the chief.

“Want one? They make your skin look younger and your hair shine brighter.”

The chief shakes his head.

She delicately clasps the slight case closed and taps the head of the smoke twice against shut copper. Packing it.

“Suit yourself,” she says slipping the case away, against her heart.

She gingerly leans into the burning bush which is all that remains of the smouldering tree.

She inhales, putting fire to leaf, lighting her penultimate square.