Flames caught at the end of her dress and sewed delicately up the lace trim of the skirt. It crisscrossed at the stringed corset of her back, and excitedly buzzed at ends of frayed red hair, hair which didn’t burn.
I had seen her before, and several times again — the woman on fire, faceless, fingers curled around the ends of her fire-caught umbrella with skin which, too, burned.
Perhaps, I think, she is a dead woman. Perhaps, I then consider, once beautiful.
She stood in crowds. She stood on buildings.
I see her in the reflections of mirrors, water, and rain puddles. I see her when I sleep, and when I’m awake. She’s on the TV. She’s on the train. She visits me in class and at work.
She’s there, gently burning in my back seat on the daily commute.
She has no words.
Her head cants to my own, and she listens — I know she listens — to everything I say.
At home, she sleeps in my bed. She keeps me warm. We watch the TV, we sit, I have drinks. I shower, she’s there, alive in the steam.
She is with me at the store, with me in the bath; together, we sit in the park and ponder the day’s past.
When I’m gone, I wonder if she’ll still be here. I wonder who cares for illusions when their creator has died.
Maybe, just maybe, she’ll be there too at the end, a vision in the flames when I’m finally burned to ash.
Dead, alive, delusion or not — I only know one thing for sure.
I’m in love with the woman who burns.