The sign read, “Bring All of Your Memories To Build A Bonfire Like You’ve Never Seen Before!”. She stood there, scratched her head to release her memories bringing them back to life again. After a few minutes of deep thought, she decided she would attend this event.
The posted bill gave an eight o’clock starting time, so with her memories gathered and packed in her favorite tapestry-woven satchel, she left her house and began the five block walk to the football field at the high school. As she walked, her head held forward and high like a self-assured woman of the new millennium, she began to notice other people walking in the same direction. Not taken by the fact that they seemed to be going to the same destination to build a bonfire, she made it a point to seem like she was just another ordinary person from town, looking forward to watch her memories burn.
The ritual began at exactly eight, right on schedule. At first, everyone stood gathered around the barker, who was telling stories of those from previous towns he visited. Then he spoke more softly, of the memories that get left behind… we all moved up closer. This barker was a fine speaker, for he had all of us glued to the scenes he was painting and trying to extract from us, which he did with such ease, offerings were gladly made without second thought.
Then it was her turn to remove memories from her bag. Each reach further inside, she made with hesitation, until she pulled the last of her offerings. She had already presented three shoe boxes of old, yellowed photographs from her mother’s closet. She had already presented two shoe boxes of love letters recieved from beaus gone off to war. And she had already thrown her jewelry, the one’s with lockets, into the pile, now as high as the uprights on the field. The barker felt the unease she felt, and took her hand in his palm and told her that it was alright. He said that he knew it was difficult to part with, but she needed to do this, so that she may move on to a better place without all of that old stuff hanging over her.
So she complied.
It wasn’t until she got back to her house, had a swig of Johnny Walker Black and sat down, that she realized what she had done.
Three weeks had passed, when there was a knock at her door. She opened it to find the barker who lit the match for the bonfire, his hands clasped in front of him. Her arm held out to wave him in to sit and have something cold to drink. He obliged and the two of them sat there making small talk, until he proposed something she couldn’t refuse.
The next day she went to the local glass factory, where the barker awaited with a pick-up full of ashes and they both pulled up their sleeves.
It took nearly a half an hour to get all that ash out of the bed of the truck, but they did it and now it was time. The barker lit the match, threw it in the furnace and ‘Whooof’, up rose a flame. Mesmerized by the fire that ensued, she stood silent and did not blink.
Once the furnace cooled, it was time to open that hatch door to see what they saw – a mirror, so smooth and it’s luster so refined. Once removed, the barker held it in front of her and when she looked, really looked beyond her image, she saw what it was that he wanted her to see. She found a new path, one that was never tread upon. So, with his arm now motioning to wave her in, she obliged by taking a step into the mirror, where she disappeared.
It has now been one month since his last bonfire exhibition was brought to a new town, but there he was, sign posted, ready to build another bonfire for someone else. For someone afraid to move forward and change their life. He was there to show them how to get rid of the past to be better equipped to follow a new path, so they may find what they will see in the mirror that is made from their ashes.
~dld october 1st, 2010
T10 prompt; ashes