We had had a most narrow escape. We had broken away, and Holly wanted a fire to destroy all of the vestiges, all of the memories, all of the fear and anguish, the insecurities and self doubt that had repressed her soul under a black magic. She wanted a conflagration to consume the spells of a dark wizardry.

I fiddled with the kindling, preparing to add some fingerlings and some wrist sized pieces.  A few bigger logs were stacked by my feet. Holly came from the tent with a small package. She said, “Burn these first. I want them to burn while everything else is added to the fire. I want them to feed the fire, to be consumed by it. I want them to burn so completely that there will be nothing left of them, no trace, not even ashes.”

I took the package from her. I looked at her tears. I smiled as if that might comfort her. She gently shook her lowered head and turned her gaze from me to the crackling kindling. She picked up some fingerlings to feed the fire. I added some too. I opened the package. “Let’s let the fire grow first,” I said. I added a piece of dry pine the size of my wrist.

You start a fire with twigs of hemlock. Dead, dry hemlock can always be found while it is still on the tree. First take twigs the size of pencil lead for tinder. Then finger size pieces for kindling. Wrist size pieces may be of other woods, so long as the wood is not wet or rotten. Wet and rotten wood make too much smoke. I cut the bigger logs from a fallen hickory. They were the devil to split. The hickory would burn long and hot. It would be a devil’s fire. An all consuming fire.

We had planned the small bonfire as the appropriate end to our adventure. The fire would be like a small funeral pyre. A pyre of things and of parts of things. We would burn the record so that there would be no record. Holly wanted it that way. It made sense considering everything that we had been through. Who would believe it all anyway?

I had scooped a shallow indentation in the ground and surrounded it with stones, a large enough area to contain the fire. Holly at first just watched, as if unable to move. I believe that she was simply contemplating the end, as if there had been only an imaginary, unreal beginning. But, it wasn’t imaginary. It wasn’t just a dream. Even if it were, I would make our fire hot enough to consume a nightmare.

I picked up the package, looked inside and handed it back to Holly. She pulled out four tarot cards: the Emperor, the Magician, the Hermit and the Moon. “Put them in as they would be in reverse,” she said with contempt as she handed them to me. “The Emperor for his tyrannical abuse of his power over me. The Magician for his trickery, his deception and for the spell of the illusions that he placed me under. The Moon for my dread, my fear and confusion. The Hermit because I lost my soul in loneliness and isolation. Burn them all so that no trace will remain, not even in my memory.”

I flipped the cards into the fire. They flashed and curled and quickly became ash and the ash itself was consumed and became black smoke that rose up from the pyre and drifted away in the dusk air until it was invisible. I looked at Holly. 

She still held one tarot card in her hand. The one of the couple protected by the angel Raphael. She then removed her clothes and threw them also into the fire. I did the same. We stood and we watched the fire until it died.


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