Story Time: Burning Identity

Burning Identity

Gwen Cosmos

       After the caps were thrown and the merry congratulations given, I got in my car and drove away. Earlier that day, I had gotten a text saying to meet her in a field outside of town. I followed the road until the houses became farther apart and then I saw the fire burning.

      I pulled over and jumped out. She was standing to the side, watching the fire burn. In her hands was a bottle of wine. She put it to her lips and took a sip.

      “What’s going on, Victoria?” I ask as I approach.

      She giggles and turns to me; her eyes wild, “It’s a celebration.”

      “You’re drunk and playing with fire.”

      She giggles again, offering me the bottle. I take it and knock some back. The bitter beverage hits my tongue and rolls down my throat.

      “I’m leaving,” she announces, leaning over a bag and pulling out old photographs. I catch glimpses of her family and old friends as she lazily tosses them into the fire.

       I put the bottle on the ground, “Where are you going?”

       She shrugs, “Anywhere but here.” She looks over her shoulder to a car parked a few feet away, “I’ve got my getaway vehicle, and I’m leaving tomorrow.”

       I sit down on the grass, suddenly unable to stand. I grab for the wine bottle and take another drink.

      She is silent as she makes her way to me. The bottle slips from my hand and she picks it up. “I was inspired.” She says with her head looking up at the stars, silver pinpricks on a black velvet background.

    “What?” I ask.

      “What I mean is there is this idiot friend of mine who told me that, ‘sometimes the best way to get better is to start over.’ So, that’s what I’m going to do.” She takes a sip, “I’m going to start over.”

        I let that sink in. The silence stretched on between us, finally I turn to her, “Are you going to keep in touch?” I ask, my heart sinking.

         She pulls her legs up and hugs her knees. The wine bottle dangles from her fingers. “I wonder if it would be better if I didn’t.”

         It hurts to hear her say it, especially after everything that has happened this past year.         She hands me the bottle, and I take one final swig before handing it back to her. I watch as she downs the last bit of liquid. We sit together in silence watching the flames dance into the dark sky.

            “I’m going to miss you,” she whispers.

            “I’ll miss you too.”

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