Tetrad: Liliana and fire — A short story
Liliana gazed mesmerized at the glowing moon that was tiptoeing between gray clouds after the evening storm. Out of reflex, she clutched the notebooks to her chest but remembered why she had come to the forest and what she wanted.
She looked down and let the notebooks fall to the ground without a second thought. Katherine, her sister, had started gathering small branches and placing them on a napkin. The soil still glimmered damp under the blessing of the past storm.
“The branches are still wet. Will that be a problem?” asked Liliana.
“No, don’t worry. Once I focus on them, it won’t matter that much” replied Katherine.
“Lil, are you sure you want to do this?” she continued after a moment.
“That’s why we’re here. ’Tis the time for something new, dearest Katherine” Liliana said, gesturing with a bow.
“So how should we do this?” Katherine said with a giggle.
“Well, do you need time to prepare or…”
“It depends. I just want to make sure before it’s too late.”
“It’s already a bit late. I should have done this sooner. No matter, let’s get on with it, shall we?” Liliana said with a faint smile while placing the notebooks on the small pyre.
“Your call, sis” Katherine said, beginning to focus on the notebooks, seeing in her mind the napkin and branches slowly collapsing in fire. She started breathing slowly while her eyes changed color through different shades of red. She snapped her fingers, with no effect for the first few times. Liliana curled her lips as if preparing a friendly smile.
“Don’t laugh” said Katherine. “It spoils my focus.”
“Sorry” Liliana replied, regaining her composure and tracing a blonde curl over the ear. Katherine continued to snap her fingers at odd intervals until a faint spark made way from the ether and seemed to grow on the tip of her thumb and index fingers.
“Do you always have to do it like this or…” Liliana asked solemnly.
“No, I just do it for effect. Pretty cool, huh?” Katherine replied and Liliana returned her smile. The spark grew until a small, clear flame burnt on her fingers.
“God, I wish I could do that” Liliana said, the flame reflected in her eyes.
“Eh, it’s a blessing and a curse all rolled into one.”
“Being able to call fire from nowhere?”
“Yes. You probably don’t remember all the times I was about to burn different things. Or our house.”
“Better not to. Shall we?” asked Liliana.
Katherine moved her hand close to the napkin. The flame engulfed the paper and Liliana felt like something inside her was starting to dissipate, making way for desired emptiness. As the flame grew and began cutting away at the branches, she felt her breathing become easier and easier. She expected a sort of fear catching up as the flame gnawed the notebooks, but she resisted and the temptation didn’t set in.
Small patches of smoke rose to the darkened sky in a swirling dance and Liliana smiled while enjoying the motion of the sparks, appearing and disappearing in a second’s whim, seeming to ask for one more moment closer to the stars before their death.
“They’re not really dying” she whispered.
“The sparks” Liliana said while waving her hand. “They’re just transforming. They come alive as sparks, then they hide from us, without dying.”
Katherine felt like saying something but stopped, contemplating Liliana’s words and the flames, almost proud of her ability. She asked after a short pause:
“So will you continue to write?”
“Of course I’ll continue to write. There’s so much to be told and recorded. But I had to make room for who I am now” Liliana said.
“Is this about forgetting or ignoring or…”
“It’s neither” Liliana replied, looking upward. “It’s about not letting the past determine who I am anymore. Most of that, most of the pain that was in the there, that’s not me anymore. Some parts have remained, some… they needed to go” she continued while Katherine listened intently, watching the fire.
“But you wrote them down. Isn’t this already purging?” Katherine asked.
“Well, no. If it hurts, it must be cleansed, not only recognized and shown. Exposing the pain is not enough. You must also let fire gorge on it. Just like this” she ended, opening her palm to the fire, while the flames seemed to grow for a moment.
Silence set in for minutes while they observed the fire consuming the paper, the words and everything that had gathered in them. As clouds danced with the wind in faint strips under the moon, Liliana’s eyelids became heavier, until she no longer remembered them. There was nothing else but setting silence, moving along with the night.
“Lil, wake up. It’s getting a bit cold” Katherine said while caressing Liliana’s shoulder.
“I’m not dreaming, Kat” Liliana smiled. “I was just… caught up in the moment.”
The two sisters stood up and left the meadow with easy steps while the last fumes rose to the sky, dissipating towards the moon and stars. The clouds seemed to slowly disperse, making way for the glimmers of light above.