Inferno

Taylor Josephine

Thereshe was. Her Daisy Duke covered rear sitting on the porch of the little shop inthe country. Her hair, the same color as the ice-cold beer in her hand that shehad been sipping for hours. Its condensation dripped onto her thigh, where the sunrose and set at her feet. The same feet covered by the same the boots that shehas worn for years, clanking every time she stepped towards her future that waspainted on her body. With a voice as sweet as molasses she spoke of the future.With eyes as green as emeralds, she looked towards the future that was walkingtowards her.

Fourfeet tall, strutting in from the distance, she saw him. His muscles surroundedby the fabric of corporation. Still, she saw him as something more complex.Walking right past her, he barged into the shop. Time passed and seconds feltmore like hours until he returned to the porch where he sat and chugged anentire twelve pack of beer. Looks of anticipation crossed her face, as if towonder how to approach the situation, as if she was thinking of the perfectsentence to use to stir up a conversation. A bunch of the female’s friends cameand sat between her and the mysterious man, as if it was a sign that thisembodiment of perfection shouldn’t associate with someone with such a cantankerousdemeanor. You could see it in her eyes that she didn’t want her friends there.She wanted to spark a fire between the cryptic personality that sat across fromher. When her friends finally shut up and took a breath, she spoke. Not to thegirls, but to the man. Her word of choice was hello, to which he responded witha slight glance. Enough to make her leave her friends and go sit beside him.

“Tanya,”she said. “My name, it’s Tanya.”

Butstill, he said nothing. Not a word. But glances were exchanged and that wasenough to make her go on.

“It’sa beautiful little town, isn’t it?” she said but he didn’t respond.

“Iremember when I was in love with it all. The scenery, the smells, the fortitudeof silence was all so glorious. But now the stillness of the town seems worsethan the chaos of a busy city. It leaves you alone to take in the world all onyour own and think about the meaning of life or some crazy conspiracy theory.”

Hechuckled.

 “My brother was always into all that jumbo. Hetalked about terrorist attacks being planned by the government to increase obedience.He was always going on tangents and it seemed so juvenile to think such a way.My parents encouraged it; they liked his imagination. They said it provoked hisindividuality. I guess he was quite the individual. Him and I were totalopposites. I was very much into contemplating life in the serenity of my mind.I wasn’t very people oriented. I wasn’t shy, but I just didn’t see the need toalways be around people. That never stopped me from partying. I can’t tell youhow many times I snuck out. Sometimes I wouldn’t come home for a day or two. Myparents were crazy strict; had I ever come home as wasted as I was, I would bedead.”

Henever took his eyes off of her. She would get him to smile and smirk, but shecould never make him speak. But as she spoke, he spoke.

“I’mdone with this little town. There’s nothing left for me here anymore,” Shesaid.

“Thenwhy don’t you just leave?” he said.

 “I would love nothing more than to turn this towninto a flaming wrath of hell, I can’t get swept up in the idea of changingsomething that I can’t control. I have a life here. It makes sense for me tostay. I have a house and a car and a job. So, I guess I can’t really say I havenothing here. I have amenities, but I don’t have happiness. “ she said whilefacing him.

“Thatmakes sense. I built my life here after I left home. As a kid, I didn’t developthe same with the whole midget thing I got going on. I always had earinfections and I couldn’t sit up on my own, crawl, walk, or catch a stupidbaseball.”

Helooked forwards no longer facing Tanya and said, “My father thought of me asquite the disappointment. What good is a son if you can’t go out in the fieldand toss a ball around? I guess his hatred for me grew as I got older becausehe didn’t want me anymore. He left me at a park when I was five years old.”

Tanyaturns and faces forward.

 He continued. “ I spent a couple days with myaunt while the police tried to find my father, but when all efforts failed, Iwas put into a foster home. I ran away from that place, it had the mosthorrendous food and every child in the home was treated like they didn’t matter.That’s when I started to take care of myself. At seventeen, I wondered uponthis town. Shortly after that, I had an atrocious ear infection that almosttook my hearing away from me. Luckily it didn’t, but I have trouble hearingnow. Escaping that threat, I thought I was invincible. I started my owncompany, I got married, I had two kids, and life seemed good. “

Tanyastarts moving her hands and rubbing them together.

“ButI worked too much. Starting a business took a lot out of me. I didn’t make loveto my wife the way I should have and I didn’t spend enough time with mychildren. Oh, what I would change if I could go back in time. But they left me,just packed up and took off one day without as much as a good bye. After all ofthat, my life went downhill. At thirty-two, I moved to the city and workedmyself to death. I’m back here to clean out the house. The one she left mealone in. I came here to get a drink, but a drink turned into a twelve pack andwell you know the rest.”

Silencefilled the air and minutes felt more like hours before either of them spoke. Unsureof what to say, they faced each other and sipped their beers.

“I’msorry,” she said.

“Nothingto be sorry about. It’s the past. Nothing either of us could do about it now,but I should get back to the house. I only have this weekend to clean it up andthen I’m going back to the city,” he said.

Butas he walked away, she followed. “Let me help you!” she proclaimed. He justshrugged his shoulders and let her continue following him. He slowed down sothat she could catch up to him and they exchanged a smile while they walkedquietly to the house that was just a few minutes down the road.

Arrivingat the quant ranch on the hillside, the two started to clear out the memoriesthat remained in the house.

“I just wish we got a redo button on life. It’s so unfair. And what happen toyou isn’t fair. None of this is fair.,” She said.

“Trustme, I know unfair. I didn’t ask for this life. I didn’t ask for my wife andchildren to leave me,” he said.

“It’schildish of us to complain and keep on complaining until our tongues fall off.I don’t want to talk about it. I want to do something about it. Let’s go. Let’sjust go,” She said

“What’swrong with you?,” he said

“Thisisn’t the life I chose either. I didn’t like my family, but I never asked forthem to die, “ she said.

Thesun went down and the moon came up and time passed every so slowly.

“Itwas a fire at my house, the house I grew up in. I was fighting with my parents.I wanted to go to a party, as usual, but they wouldn’t let me. They told methat I was too young, but I went anyways. This was routine at my house. I’dcome home the next day and get a whopping. But next morning I went home andhome wasn’t there anymore. My childhood house was gone. Reduced to nothing butashes. I didn’t know what to do. I was in denial. I though my family wouldsneak up behind me in perfect condition. But the police found me and told meabout the tragedy. My parents, my brother, gone.”

 “Follow me,” he said as he took her hand andran out of the house. “You know what I want? I want to burn this house toashes.”

“What?Are you kidding me?” she yelled.

 “I want to forget about the past. I want toforget about everything that happened before today.”

Neitherof them spoke, but he drew his lighter and threw it at the house. Next it washer house, the one she moved into after the fire. They burned it to the ground,but even that didn’t drown out the pain.

Therewas only one thing left to do. They walked to the city and sat there for hourstill the sun was about ready to rise.

“Oh,what a beautiful thing,” he said.

“What?”

“Hope,”he said as he threw the lighter on the gasoline-covered porch, only to watchits flames cast the last light the town would ever see.