The Fires

The bus was so crowded I could barely move. My nose was stuck in someone’s armpit groove. This man’s hygiene — oh! — I could not approve. The rhymes in my head could drop me dead, but no, it mustn’t be so, for to court I had to go.

I had refused to get off my bench, that lovely place where I could quench, where I could calm the fires inside, but I was by a policeman denied.

“Sir, sir?” his rough voice like a burr, “do you stay here?”

As much as I wanted to comment, my fires forced me silent. Yet, somewhere inside of me, I knew this would soon turn violent. Normal people don’t comprehend, that since I lost my wife, my heart would not mend. Now I sit by my bench, my fires I try to quench.

“Sir? You must come with me now.” The policeman approached me carefully, as if I was some endangered cash cow. Oh, would my fires never take a bow? Would they not go with him now?

“Please don’t touch me,” my fires whispered.

“Oh no,” the policeman demurred.

And so silence fell, like the deafening ring of an absent bell. I was vaguely aware of my disturbed peace, and I felt my self-control slightly increase.

“Please leave me alone,” I managed to moan.

My face contorted, my attempt at civility thwarted (once again my fires), I found myself transported.

Once again to the crazy space! It always felt like a delirious daze. Scratch, punch, bite, kick, I tried everything with that policeman. It was jarring, it didn’t make sense. Scratch, punch, bite, kick, and soon I found myself impounded by the man.

While I sat on that new, unfriendly bench, I thought about those men who cared for lions. Rescuing helpless cubs, and reintroducing them into the wild. Wasn’t meeting a lion who was not a child even worse than irons, even worse than wooden beating clubs? But these men risked their very lives, as if for their wives, just to hug a lion who was no longer a cub.

Those men lived more in five minutes than I ever would in a day. But this thought could not bring me round, this thought would not take my fires away. To live means that we die. To die means that we sleep? What if we walk around in an unending sleep of fear, because we hold our safety too dear?

The bus was so crowded I could barely move. My nose was stuck in someone’s armpit groove. But now it was time to get off. The judge would deliver his judgement, my fate would be sealed by the law and her wisdom. So be it. I rest my case.

(459 words)

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