Episode 4: The Kindling

Photo by Olivia Henry (via Upslash.com)

Watch it burn.

Here is a list of opening lines to stories that Spenser Oakheart never finished. He started each of these stories in a small, leather-bound journal. Writing by hand. Romanticizing the act of writing, the physical act of it, guiding the pen across the lined pages, listening to the scratchy cadence of his imagination rendered tangible. He bought the journal because he loved the smell of it, wanted the leathery sweetness all about him as he sat and wrote, inscribing himself into an illustrious genealogy of ink and paper, flesh and brain.

He did not finish any of these stories and, in truth, doesn’t know how any of them end.

  1. His smile felt like a lie.
  2. “Look at me, you coward.” And that was when he knew he had lost her.
  3. The blood under his fingernails was old and brown and looked like dirt.
  4. The box of photos wasn’t where he had left it.
  5. The secret library had been discovered. Forrester reached for the gun hidden under his desk.
  6. She thought about all of the dead bodies in the cemetery, feeding the grass.
  7. The man in the rowboat tried to lick his lips, but his dry tongue just rasped against his cracked, blistered skin.
  8. The grey woman got up from the table, her grey dress whispering against her body.
  9. He was the axis around which a little world turned. The way the windows flexed like a ribcage when the furnace kicked in. The way the whole place seemed to shrink when he left a cupboard door open in the kitchen. The way the dandelion kept boasting from the same crack in the sidewalk, even after he pulled it out.
  10. “Let me show you where we keep the dead robots.”
  11. The old eagle turned for the water one last time. A single feather shivered to the forest floor.

The pages burn, edges flaring bright orange even as they curl, blacken, and flake away to nothing. He thinks that this might be the story that the journal was meant to tell all along, more true than anything he could ever write, that it had contained within it all of these glowing runes of ember, just waiting for him to set them free so that they might scrawl themselves against the darkness of the ashen fireplace, a secret story that only he could read and know.

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