Don’t Touch the Fire
by Melanie Odhner
My hands between his, and mine are small enough to fit. Working so fast from curious to pain, they struggle through.
I’ve been warned, but It’s so lovely that I need to touch it, know the texture of those smoothly ragged pieces, pouring up.
It hurts. Pain surprises me like everything, burns and devours. I could melt away, it hurts so much.
We feel time so slow, this close to the beginning. Slow, so the fire traps me here. Horrible brightness is all I see or feel.
Yet it moves fast, so beautiful. A towering, flowing glow. A trick, a hidden monster. Now I know.
In this moment forever. I can’t pull back fast enough.
Even when I do, the fire follows me. I can’t see it but I feel it, alive in my fingertips. The pain rushes in my blood, in my whole body and breath. I struggle to inhale, ragged and whimpering.
Just as I start scream after scream after scream, I’m sitting on familiar arms, dizzy and comforted, because he picked me up high off the ground.
The warmth my skin gathers from the radiating light has a different meaning now.
Daddy rocks me until I can breathe and he takes my hand and kisses the little blisters on my fingers and he says again, “Don’t touch the fire.”