Our mutual language was playing with fire. There is not a dry day when I open my windows and Tomomi is absent. She regards me from afar with a look of vacancy and longing. If I give her so much as eye contact then the house will surely burn.
We built them together in secluded woodlands where none could judge our hobby. Piles of dry sticks and leaves to which we’d set the corners flickering and revel in the smell and heat of our combustions. Holding our hands into the tiny flames to see who flinched first.
We started getting too bold. Fires in the basement of school buildings made of learner’s texts with crippled spines or reports from students long dead. Thrusting books of grey-wisping matches into train seat upholstery and vaulting the ticket barriers before anyone saw our faces, blind with adrenaline. We discussed turning ourselves into the fire several times over and neither thought to caution.
She haunts the street across from me, the lighter in her palm calling me. I close the curtains and feel her heat still on the other side of the glass. I retreat to the rear garden and hose away the ashpiles of the things I’d incinerated alone. I lament the frigidity. From indoors drifts a hint of woodsmoke.