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          I can’t help but notice this surrounding image of brown, crooked lines and overlapping green cracks. The ground seeps disaster and bland shame. My disbelief can taste the wreckage of misery. The nothings that remain lay waste in the pit of broken landscape. I still find it hard to believe that I am a product of this damaged, catastrophic land. But I am. I thrive even though I am the result of a setting that doesn’t sit well.

            I am the epitome of fire. My presence intensifies any situation. The flames fighting on my head dodge every hit that is thrown by its opposing spark. There’s always a back and forth. There is a rhythm to the steps and a pattern in their movement.

            Swing, duck, jab, back step, repeat.

            This way, there’s always something going on around me. My body sways with the wind and picks a fight with the sun. I emphasize the anger in the dirt as I dominate the ground with my radiation of a posture. I look back at the marks I’ve made and the scorch trail I leave behind. It’s inevitable for the ground I walk on to remember me. My heat never rests.

            But my heat is humbled. Humbled only by this new vibrant presence. She calls me with her looks and I know, at this moment, that I will always answer. I chase after this hunch, this idea, of a distraction. The urge to meet something to feast my eyes upon intensifies. I would chase this drive to the ends of the earth if it meant an escape from this state of famine for the sore eye. But I stay humbled. The fighters grow tired, and the rhythm is interrupted.

            I see her. She stands there with such grace. Her core is calm, but her skin breathes in dance. From my distance I notice her curves flow with the music. The music that does not actually play, but when I look at her, I can hear it. With curves of that of a goddess, I am distracted. She turns and waves at me. I see it in her eyes before I can realize it on my own.

            I have stepped into her realm of brio and life. As I approached her, I felt everything I had been searching for; even things I didn’t know I was looking for, or maybe that I had forgotten I wanted.

            When her deep eyes met my lost stare, I realized that she felt the complete opposite. Then I realized that my instinct was off. My initial response should have been the reverse. It is against the laws of nature for me to seek her. So it was only logical for the events to go as followed.

            This new living image of hope escaped the grasp of my gaze. In that moment, the action piece, the part that is my flame, is revived and the choreographed, wave-filled girl was gone. She was smart enough to escape the potential mistake. But I’m not. Before I could catch up to the rhythm I had thrown off, I was turning the rubble to ash. My flames moved faster than my mind. My body had already made the decision to pursue this unlikely companion.

            Our separate rhythms clashed with our colors. The way we moved was linked, but to visualize such incompatible beings was absurd. Her swift-paced getaway was the mirror image of deluged fear. She ran from the idea of what we could be; I chased the pleasure of how she made me feel.

            For so long, I have been set in this box of dull illustrations. A taste of something rare, a mutter of something taboo – if I could touch the red button I’d be grateful.

Her flow of elegance and drift in the dead space made her irresistible.

The second that I had the opportunity to revel in her existence, her grace was set back. I caught up to her and she rejected my approach. I was able to read her expression with ease, the tide was that clear to me. She desperately wanted to avoid us being together, but she didn’t go as far as to disappear.

It was a silent feud between right and want. I so whole-heartedly wanted to believe she was on the same side as I. But every other step I took towards her, she took back. I could tell that she was indecisive.

I would have been able to pay more attention to the details of her waves, to study more patterns and further understand the way she moved and what it means, but I didn’t.

We were attacked by an uproar of a mischievous wind. The beast couldn’t help but interrupt the conversation we were not having. The fight seized and the dance was over. The one thing we shared was cluelessness about what was happening.

The wind pushed the taste of her fear towards me. I was able to differentiate between the sweet linger of her being and the salted tears she was letting out.

All the same, there was a wind, and its ferocity was taking over. It challenged the fight that lived in me and tested the skill of dance within her. In a slit in time, we shared a feeling. Both of us knew that relocation was necessary.

Our rhythms synced and the steps were identical. I knew she was depending on me to get us somewhere. And I was at peace with this. The burnt evidence of my existence was reconciled when she mirrored my steps. As she would step where I did, the ground forgot me. The ashes were glorified and she took away from the destruction. She gave what I left behind a second chance.

If only this force of an angry man’s breath would allow us redemption. In another life, had I seen this coming, I would have taken a different approach. To step into the eye of this storm and conquer it – I would have done that.

But we live in the timeline where I knew that if the wind was going to consume me, I’d no longer be able to bask in her elegance. If for a moment I allowed it, the wind would have its way with my existence. So I act according to the rhythm.

Every step I take is in hope that I will lead us to a safe haven, but this wind is ripping at my existence and blowing away hers. She is trying to stay close so that we are not lost in the storm, yet she knows that if she gets too close, it will be another natural disaster all on its own.

This wind taunts me and whistles discouragement. His laugh resonates through the storm and I am humiliated.

When I stop and turn to her, my intentions liquefy and hers melt. She reminds me of everything I can’t have. So I take the liberty of finding us a shelter between the rubble. Our makeshift cave will have to do.

With the power that remains, I restrain myself from approaching her, for that will only spell disaster. I fight the urge to comfort her in this stressful time and I struggle to keep up. My will is putting up a fight with my conscience.

My will wins.

Every part of me rushes to her in one moment. Our hearts meet and our elements clash. She’s a different kind of scared. She’s scared that this moment will end soon, and I am, too.

I can feel her being diminish and I close my eyes. I’d rather not witness the inevitable. The pain that scorches my skin, in this embrace, loses intensity. That hurts me more than my flame being put out.

Our tempos were unable to sync a while ago, but it is evident here. The two sounds would argue and scream and it’d be an endless back and forth. Until her song ended and there was no more resist.

I didn’t have to open my eyes to know she was gone. The hole-hearted embrace was enough for me. The once- heavy feeling against my chest had gone away.

A cold shutter rushes up my spine and brings the fighters back. Now there is no other rhythm to get mixed up with. I open my eyes and look for a trace of her being here.

What is left of her collects on the walls around me. I press my hand against a drop and allow it to weld me in place. I do it with pride. I breathe in the humid testimony that lingers in her place and cannot come to terms with her exit.

I would have preferred to stay in an infinite second of irony. Instead, when we touched, she burned me and I drowned her.



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