Thursday, 2 August 2012

Fire is an Oxymoron - Part 2...and the Olympics!

Good morning (or good night to those of you in the America's) Well, I don't know how many of you are keeping up with the Olympics, but it's been a busy few days in London. Bradley Wiggins winning Tour de France and an Olympic gold in one month. Michael Phelps becoming the most decorated Olympian of all time. That Romanian girl face-planting in the gymnastics. And of course, the thing that started it all - the opening ceremony.

I watched the whole thing, and I found it breath-taking. I loved the way Danny Boyle showed Britain changing, and how he managed to work literature into it. Voldemort made a guest appearance, coupled with his creator, J.K Rowling. It was amazing. Some people I've spoken to didn't understand it, but I don't think you were meant to. It showed what Britain is and was. If you haven't seen it, I suggest you go onto Youtube and watch it. Right now. On you go. I won't get angry, I promise.

Anyway, with that over, here's Part 2 of Fire is an Oxymoron. Enjoy (and tell me what you thought of the Olympics in the comments!)

Fire is a Oxymoron - Part 2

The cobbled street stretched on for yards twisting this way and that through the labyrinth of Erlion. Lara started to feel a butterfly flutter in her chest. Had she taken a wrong turn? She must have. She stopped and looked at the buildings around her. They were dark and filthy, with broken tattered windows and puddles of urine gathered around their doors. The cobbles were slick with oil. Lara felt a lump rise in her throat. She had taken a wrong turn. When? She had no idea. The city was constantly changing, evolving; the streets were moving and readjusting themselves with every year that passed. There was no way to know where she was. Not unless she asked someone, and she couldn’t do that.

Lara gulped and started walking again. Her hand moved to her pocket and she fumbled the box. It was small and papery, but inside it was the gift of life. The one thing that she had to keep hidden. The gift of fire.

“Hello, missy.” A voice suddenly sounded in the alley and Lara froze, her hand tight around the box.

“Hello.”  A figure stepped out from the darkness and Lara took a step forward. A hand pressed into her back, and shivers erupted up her spine. The hand was calloused and squat.

The figure in front of her stepped forward and Lara saw a man, clad in rags. He was smiling a tombstone grin, black gaps between his yellow teeth. A gold ring glinted in the moonlight. Lara gulped. The gold ring was a sign of the snatchers. She was a young girl, unprotected, and now, she was their victim.

“L-Leave me alone,” she squeaked. It was pathetic and the man in front of her smiled.

“Come on, sweetheart. Let’s see that pretty face.” He took a step forward and reached out his hand. “Come on. Off with the scarf.”

“No.”

The man raised his eyebrows. “No? Jim you heard her. She said no.” His voice was dripping with sarcasm.  

His smile dropped from his face and he cocked his head. “Jim. Hold her.”

Lara felt the hand on her back move and close around her wrist, quick as a hummingbird’s heart beat. His nails dug into her skin, ripping the knuckles on her hand, and Lara gasped as pain shot through her wrist. She could feel the bones crunching together, and each time she moved the grip got tighter. The realization was a trickle, a stream of slow moving consciousness. She was trapped. And there was nothing she could do.
The first man moved closer until she could feel his breath on her ear. It was sour and dirty, a sewer of waste and dirt. A crow cawed and the man grinned. “I’m going to take off your pretty scarf now.”

“No. NO.” Lara’s eyes widened and she could feel her heart thumping to an erratic beat in her chest. “NO!”
The man chuckled and his pinkie traced the outline if the fabric. It blew up around Lara’s face and she gulped. The man moved all of his fingers under the scarf and he smiled. “Yes.” With a flick of his wrist, the scarf fell to the floor, and the man fell to his knees.

His face was white with shock and his eyes were wide with fear. His pupils reflected her face. It was mangled and ripped, a chunk gone from her cheek. The skin was lumpy and pitted, scars coating her lopsided mouth and her nose was pushed out of place. She was hideous.

 Lara felt the hands move off her wrist and footsteps vanished into the distance. Lara looked at the man in front of her. He was quivering and his knees were banging together as they scraped at the rough ground. 

“You-you-you...” the man gulped. “Mira?”

“No.” Lara jerked backwards and picked her headscarf off from the floor. Her face was contorted with fury and rage burned through her veins. “No. I’m Lara.”

“But...it’s you. Princess Mira. You’re King Missat’s daughter. You are. I know you are...” the man trailed 
off, his eyes roaming Lara’s face. “You are her.”

Lara began wrapping the scarf around her head again. “No. I’m Lara.”

“NO, you’re not.” The man stood up and creased his wrinkled brow. “I could see your face from a mile away,” he said. He snarled and his face turned normal again, regaining its shiny red glaze. “You know that you’re the reason we can’t have fire? You know it’s your fault that I have to wear this thing every day?” He jabbed at his ring. “I used to be a cook in the kitchen. And then the disaster happened and I was sacked and left on the street. Your father’s still in mourning. You are the reason this place is going to the dogs. You’re the reason I haven’t had hot food in weeks. You’re the reason your father won’t leave his room. You’re Mira.”

Lara looked the man in the eye. “I was, but then I died. I am dead, ok. I’m not alive. I died in that fire - it’s better if everyone just believed that.” She turned away and started walking down the street, her hand settled back in her pocket. She could feel her pulse in her wrist, thumping and sizzling. Keep walking, keep walking, she was fine...

The man grabbed her wrist. “I know you’re alive. I can tell people.”

“Yeah, great idea. Have everyone think you’re insane. How clever,” Lara said, still walking.

“Not if I can bring you to the king. Then you can’t lie.”

Lara’s heart clenched and she turned around, her face turned downwards in a snarl. “Do you know who you are talking to?”

The man smiled. “You are the Princess Mira, daughter of King Missat and brother of Co-”

Lara moved forward and clamped a hand over the man’s mouth. “Do not say his name. I am not Mira. I am Lara - a gypsy, a child, a traveller. I come here every winter for shelter and then I leave. My parents are dead, and I have no brothers.” Lara let her hand go from the man’s mouth. “Now, let me go in peace.” She whipped around and started walking again.

“Stop it. NOW. You can save your father, you can save this kingdom. Come on, Mira! You are the princess, the heir, the saviour. Please. I want my old job back. I don’t like this way of life. I want to be clean and well fed again. Please! Help me! Help your people.”

Lara was getting tired of all of this. She couldn’t be bothered with his whining, his moaning. She wasn’t coming back. She was never coming back. Her dad would murder her, the peasants and the people would hate her. She was disfigured - she couldn’t be Queen. And besides, Cojo was the heir. Was the heir.

Lara heard the man open his mouth to speak again and, reaching into her pocket, she said, “Stop. I’m not coming back. I can’t.  I don’t want to help you - you tired to kidnap me and force me into your silly little games. I’m ugly, I’m sick and I’m tired of caring. No one cared for me before the fire. My own father wanted me to die. He said it himself. The fire was an escape route, a way out. And trust me, I don’t want to return to this place again. Not when I finally have some freedom.” Lara pulled out the box turned round to face the man. She held the box up towards the moonlight. “Do you know what this is?”
T
he man nodded. “How did you get that? They were all burned after the fire,” he said. His voice was slow and soft, and realisation was dawning in his eyes.

Lara opened the box and pulled out a thin, sleek match. “I’ve had it for years. It’s mine. I have the gift of fire. I’ve used it before - five years ago. I used it to save myself, to give myself an escape route. And guess what?” Lara struck the match and held it above her head. The flame flickered and the man’s face was illuminated by the twinkling fire. His eyes were wide and orange with the glow and Lara fl ether mouth turn upwards in a smile. “I’m going to use it again.”  And with a showman’s flourish, the match tumbled onto the ground.

The oil on the ground sparked and flames erupted from the dirty cobbles. The fire rippled outwards in great burning tides and a piercing scream filled the air as the man was engulfed in its waves, and stolen beneath the shore of red. Lara turned away and walked. She could feel the heat on her back, and she could feel flames lick her cheek, but she the scar tissue left her nerves dead. She could burn and never feel it.

Lara strolled away from the flames, keeping her head pressed against her chest as the shouts and the screams started across the city. Children were running, men, women and grandparents were yelling and grabbing buckets and everyone was sprinting towards the fire, towards that tiny alleyway. No one noticed her walking through the mob, pushing in the opposite direction. No one saw the gypsy, and no one saw the princess. She kept her eyes down and her hands in her pockets, tickling the box of matches. Her hands were shaking and her heart danced in her chest, spasming and writhing. The last time she had done that was five years ago, when she had lit the fire and caused the disaster. She could remember it too clearly - the matches, smooth under her fingertips, the heat of the fire pressing against her face, the searing pain as it licked her pale lips, and the sound of Cojo screaming and bawling as he went down, down, down, swallowed by the red and orange tide.

Lara pushed her way through the crowds of people and arrived back at the gate. The guards were standing still and straight as ever, but fear played on their faces. Lara contorted her face into a stricken expression. “I want my dog. I need to leave this place.”

The guard looked at her and nodded. “Yes,” he said. He turned round and walked through a small wooden gate to his left. Lara could hear the yells getting louder and through the slits in her headscarf she could see the orange getting higher and higher, burning the sky with its fiery jaws.

The guard came back a moment later with a dog - a Saluki with short black hair and a white chest. The tips of its ears were a vivid brown and it had four brown socks. Lara let it sniff her hand and then she placed a finger on its rump. The dog came to her side obediently, and Lara nodded at the guard. “Thank you.”

The guard nodded back and said, “Goodbye. And take care.”

Lara smiled and tapped the new dog on the rump. In her mind it was already Cojo, in memory of her little brother. He was only five when he died. Helpless. Vulnerable. Tiny, in memory and death.  It made her feel sick. Lara gulped down bile and marched back into the forest. The dog was shivering and Lara felt for the matches in her pocket. The gift of fire.

It is light, and it is darkness. It begets life, and then, it destroys it.





1 comment:

Rose said...

Did you hear about the gymnast who did the nerdfighters sign after her routine? PSYCHED! :D

I love this story so much. Can't wait to see you todaaaaayyy (: