Awoken by the harsh cold against my cheeks, I glance around. The only sound to be heard in the woods I find myself abandoned in is the crackling of a lone fire. Its soft, bitter sound echoing beyond what my eyes could see. It was then that I saw an innocent, yet fearful face staring back at me, her hand moving from her forehead to her chest, then crossing from one shoulder to the other in the sign of the cross. I wanted to ask, "Who are you?" But the words seemed to be stuck at the back of my throat along with the frostbite.
I wish to ask her who she is, but I don't know if I could answer the same question. Never in your life do you think you'll forget who you are, and yet right at this moment, I can't recall anything. How did I get here? Should I be here? Who is that woman staring at me? Is my 401k untouched? Leaving the last question a bit farther back in my brain than the rest, I sat down across from her on a log, not really sure where to go or what to do.
I sniffled and pulled my gray scarf closer to my neck, its softness mentally consoling what fears I seemed to be confronting. I then pushed my hands closer to the fire, this gesture comforting me and making my not so comfortable guest jump in fear.
"I'm not going to hurt you." I said to her, staring into her bright grey eyes.
"That's not what they say in the stories." She managed to say back. I instantly furrowed my brows, confused about what these stories were. I'm famous? Perhaps Howie Mandel got a Laryngectomy and got a new one instead. I reached up and ran my hands through the thick bit of hair that sat on top of my head and shook my head. Definitely not Howie Mandel.
"I don't know how I got here, or why I'm here." She suddenly blurted out. I looked up at her again and noticed she was starting to shiver. I felt pity for her, her nose looked as if it was about to fall off. I pondered with myself for a second, before getting up and sitting on her side of the fire.
"I want you to know that I'm not going to hurt you. I know you're cold, and quite frankly I don't know why we're here either. Hopefully we'll figure that out soon, but we can't do that if your nose falls off." I said as I scooted closer to her, gently resting the edge of my shoulder against hers.
"It'd be against my religion to be sitting here with you like this." She said in a gently tone, the fear still present but lessened. My confusion only grew, and yet my curiosity was right there with it.
"I don't understand, why would it be against your religion?" I asked her, looking into her eyes once more. Her blonde hair flowed so well down the back of her head, it was as if she was immaculate. She caught her breath in a quiet laugh and put her hand on mine, dropping something very small inside. When she moved her hand, I glanced down to see a silver crucifix in my palm. My eyes were fixated on it for five minutes, even ten. There was something about this cross that made me wonder if I was a believer too. Which made me mad in the sense of still not knowing who I was.
"Why do you believe in God?" I asked her suddenly. I looked over at her as she looked at me. She smiled. A simple gesture and yet I was so taken back by it.
"Because he saved me, he died for my sins." She said, smiling as she looked back at the crucifix in my hand.
"Do you think he saved me too?" I asked her, wanting to know if it would draw anything back to me.
"At one period in time, yeah, he did." She said, taking the crucifix and instead intertwining her fingers with mine. They were warm, soft. Perhaps throughout all of this I should have faith in him like she does. She's so scared and has no idea of where she is, and yet she still has faith that he'll guide her.
"You know, I really admire your perseverance in your faith. Not many can do that. Humanity is an ugly thing." I said to her, slowly leaning my head onto her shoulder. She laughed softly and rested her head on top of mine.
"I know, I'm glad you know that too." She said, putting her head back up, making me follow suit. I looked up at her in confusion, and she let go of my hand.
"Your hand is too hot, I feel like it's burning me." She said, before putting her hand on my chest. "This isn't warm like your hand though." She continued before dropping her hand to grab mine, forcing me to place my hand where her hand once was. Ice cold, that was the only way to describe it. I almost had to pull my hand back from how cold it was.
"You're lonely, aren't you?" She asked. I turned my focus away from her and instead stared straight into the fire.
"Yeah...I am." I said to her, making sure to look back at her for her reaction. She smiled once again, her dimples showing ever so slightly.
"I know...selfishness does that to a person." She said, standing up. I glanced up at her, gasping as a thought crossed my mind.
"So, you do know who I am!" I asked her in excitement.
"Everyone does, maybe different versions of you, but I know what you are." She said turning her back to me, then glancing back to look into my eyes.
"You are the worst being to ever exist, I've hated you all my life, from the moment I met you up until meeting you right here, right now. However, you were only doing what you thought was right, and I don't blame you for what you did." She said confidently. I scoffed, for I had no idea what it was I had done.
"So I did somethings I probably shouldn't be proud of, do I still have some good in me?" I asked her sincerely, searching her eyes for answers.
"I was taught the devil was once an angel, and I still believe it." She said in a quiet voice before walking forward, her snowy footprints leading into the forest. I didn't run after her; my body wouldn't let me. I simply stared. The fire engulfed me, as if I belonged there. As if I was being punished for asking questions, for wanting to know more.
For wanting to be different.
YOU ARE READING
The Fire WithinShort Story
A man is awoken in a forest, unable to recall anything from who he is to how he came to be. However, he is not alone. A woman is with him, a woman he does not know, a woman who is extremely frightened by his appearance. In this one chapter story, e...