Fiction Writing Friday: Three Matches

Originally posted 2015-10-23 16:00:36.

Match One

I struck the match off the concrete for the fourth time trying to get it to catch. I only had three matches left and I could not let them go to waste, but I had to see where I was and try to find a way out. Finally, I saw that flame light up before my eyes. It had been days, I think, since the last time I had seen light. It might had been a week, but it didn’t matter the light was back. I blinked, trying to adjust my eyes to the light and saw my surroundings for the first time. The walls were large stones and the floor was concrete. There were no windows and the room was too small, only big enough for the dirty mattress on the floor. A sturdy wooden door centered a wall and there was a bucket in one corner of the room, it must have been the makeshift toilet.

The bucket looked empty; I know I didn’t find it to use it as a toilet sadly, but this could be the best chance for light. I took off my shirt and shoved it in the bucket as I watched the match get smaller and smaller. I slowly lowered the match to the shirt and held my breath as to not put the flame out prematurely. Right as I was about to touch the flame to my shirt, I fire hit my fingers and I let out a startled gasp as I dropped the stick into the bucket. Not shockingly, the flame did not catch on the shirt and I lost my first of three matches.

I cried as the darkness enveloped my vision and I felt the weight of it pushing on my face. I curled up into a ball and rocked letting the gravity of the situation hit me like a truck. How did I even get here? I was reading in my room when the whole house went dark. I stumbled around until I found my phone and used the flashlight on it to see. Once I was able to see, I went to the basement to see if it was a blown fuse and while standing at the box, I felt a massive blow on my head and heard a laughter that I cannot even describe.

I tentatively touched the back of my head and felt the wetness of blood and a sharp pain shuttered through my body.   I ached all over like I was beaten and bruised and it had been hours since I had eaten or drank anything, maybe it had been days. Time blurs together in a dark room. I closed my eyes hoping that when I opened them that this was all just a bad dream.

Match Two

I heard the door slam and bolted upright. “Careful, careful, you will knock over all of your food and drink.” I moved my hands around me slowly until I found a tray which felt like it held some sort of food. I quickly grabbed what I thought was bread and shoved it into my mouth. The food was hard and it tasted disgusting but I was starving and shoved every last bit into my mouth. I also found a small cup with what I hoped was water in it, but I am pretty sure it was not. “Eat slowly, I am not sure when or if I will give you more.”

“Who are you?” I asked, but it came out as a meek squeak.

Laughter erupted and it sounded like it was all around me. “There is that small voice I know. The one you use to draw men into your web. The one you use to always get what you want. C’mon Princess, where is your true self? ”

“What have you done to me you asshole?!” I shouted, “Let me out!” I threw the empty cup against the door.

“There it is!” he exclaimed, clapping his hands. “There is some of that fire I have been expecting. Enjoy the dark.”

Silence. Silence all around me. Why is the quiet louder in the dark? Why do I have to hear that hum of stillness? I would live in silence forever as long as I could see. I had two more matches left. One of them had to work. One of them had to give me the light that I craved.

I grabbed my bucket and struck the second match over and over against the wall, hoping for it to light. After about seven strikes the match lit, and the warm glow washed over my face. I held my breath as I again lowered the match to the ripped fabric. The flame dimmed as I held it steady against the shirt, praying that it would catch and the small flame seemed to grow a bit bigger

“HAHA” the voice emerged making me jump. The match fell against the bucket and went out. “HAHAHAHAHHAA.” The laughter continued.  

I let out a piercing scream of frustration and anger as I put my head in my hands and rocked slowly. “What did I do? Why am I here?” I sobbed.

“Is this becoming too much for you?” He sounded like he was right behind me, “Are you scared and weak, crying in the dark?” I continued to sob. “Maybe I should hurt you and leave you in pain and agony as you slowly die here.”

“I want out! Let me out!”

“NO! You will pay for what you did to my son!”

My breath staggered and the quiet hum filled my ears. He knew. I thought no one knew. It was two years ago, and I was driving home late one evening from a party on a dark, back road. I had a few drinks but really it was nothing. I was not even buzzed. I got a text from my boyfriend and went to look at my phone. He was being sappy and sweet and I let out a light laugh as I looked up to check the road. Then there was a boy, no more than ten, walking across the street in front of me. I had nowhere to go, I tried the brakes but I couldn’t stop. Everything happened so fast. There was no one around. I got out and looked at his little body laying there and I didn’t know what to do. So I panicked and left. I just left him there and drove away.

I will never forget his face, the shock and terror and the look of knowing that spread across it right before I hit him.  I dreamed about it nightly, and wake up in a cold sweat often. Cole…his name was Cole the papers said. And I killed him.

“Cole,” I said silently.

“Don’t you ever speak his name again!” the voice busted out of the darkness and it felt like a cold slap across my face.

“It was an accident! I swear. I am so sorry for what happened” I was sobbing louder than before now.

“Lies! You could have called the cops! You could have taken him to a hospital. You could have done something! Anything!” Anger, rage, hatred. This man was right. I let his son die. “You are doing to pay for your actions.”

I wept and finally dreamed. The young face appeared before me and begged for help as I rotted in the darkness.

The Final Match

Time passed again without food or drink. The man had not been back and it was better this way. I should pay for my sins and I should be held accountable. Why didn’t I go to the police? Why didn’t I help? Why? I wanted to see one last time. I knew I was not going to get out, maybe I did not deserve to, but I wanted light. I was sick of the hum of darkness. I had been using the bucket as a toilet so I knew I could not make fire for long. But the 20 seconds or so of the match would be enough for me to see one last time and then I would just be done, resigned to my fate.

I struck the match on the wall and it lit up instantly. I stared into the light, letting it fill me before I entered darkness again, and saw eyes staring back at me. Black and soulless, dead of emotion.  The pale face was gaunt and I knew it was the boy’s father looking back at me. He grinned and blew out the match.  

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I am a 29 year old from Pennsylvania. I am married to a wonderful husband and we have two children both named after super heroes! A girl who is 4 and a boy who is 1. Most of my time is spent working, being a mom, and gaming.