Playing with Fire by Lori Cramer

You were eight, maybe nine, rifling through your dad’s desk drawer for some gum, when you discovered the matches. Pocketing them, you hurried down the hall to the bathroom and locked the door. You lit every match in the pack one by one, fascinated by the flame, letting each flimsy stick burn bright till the last possible moment.


At thirteen, your new friend Brandi offered you a Marlboro in the parking lot behind the baseball stadium. You’d never smoked before, never so much as touched a cigarette, but that didn’t stop you from putting the narrow cylinder to your glossy lips as if you’d done it a hundred times. You relished the burning at the back of your throat, the feel of fire at your fingertips.


By the time you met him, you’d had enough of the boys on the block. Safe boys, boring boys. He was different, the definition of danger. Sparks flew, brilliant neon flashes flickering against the midnight sky. He ignited something deep within you, and you couldn’t get enough of that white-hot intensity. You got singed. Seared. Scorched. When the blaze turned to embers, all that remained was a charred heart.

Lori Cramer’s short prose has appeared in Ellipsis Zine, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Riggwelter, and Splonk, among others. Her story “Scars” (Fictive Dream, February 2018) was nominated for ‘Best Microfiction 2019’. Links to her writing can be found here. Follow her on Twitter here.


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