Cinders

Beltane.

There is fire in the night. I dream of men dancing naked. Sweaty, smelly, ashen men, lit by fire dancing in darkness. Of witches screeching, of eyes caught in firelight. Of rhythm. Of smoke and stars.

I remind myself this is a Maths exam.

But there it is. The thought in my head. The numbers blur on the page. I look at my palm. At the tiny cinder of heat in the middle of it. I blow on it. To cool it. To cool me. Why me.

I can throw fire.

Out of the palm of my hand. The cinder embedded there glimmers in the dullness of the hall. I could burn this place to the ground. With everybody in it. I look around me. There is the invigilator.

An old man in a cardigan.

It’s always the same. They always wear cardigans. Woollen cardigans are best for soaking in water and dousing the flames. I know I have watched them beat flames in the night when I could not control it.

Polyester burns green.

Everyone else is writing. There is the noise of thousand of pens scrawling across wooden desks. The gentle tap of fingers on soft calculator buttons. Buttons. After the last fire there were buttons. Giant buttons.

One of the dead must have had a jacket with buttons.

They all think it was me. The cinder burns my left hand. It is a flame waiting to be lit. It was me. I have been out of control. I am now in control. The fire burns with me, not against me.

Beltane.

Flames licking the night sky. Wolves howling at the moon. The crops, we need them to grow this season. I belong to the past. I am no use to the future anymore. I must make a life here.

Calculus.

I cannot focus. Somewhere inside of me the fire burns endlessly. I feel hot. From my toes to the top of my head. I push it away forcing it all into that point in the palm of my hands. That cinder, it grows red hot.

Trigonometry.

Triangles. Three sides. I scrape the cinder with my fingers and smoke rises. I shove my hand under the desk to hide it. Why me? I wonder. Why did this happen to me. I shift in my seat. I shuffle. I try and focus.

Beltane.

There is a ringing in my head. I look at the panel where the fire alarm is. The ringing, it is only in my head. Can no one else see the smoke? I take a sip of water. I stroke the cinder. I must stay calm.

Algebra.

I pull my hair until it hurts. The girl across from me looks at me. She is something I am not. I try and ignore her. Still the fire rages inside of me. The cinder burns brightly. I can smell smoke. It is 3 desks to the wall. I can see the fire alarm.

Statistics.

I look behind me, I look all around me. Everyone head down, scratching away. The man in the cardigan looks at me. I can see him thinking. He is coming towards me. I am moving.

Beltane.

I did not intend to move. He is getting faster. I fling myself out of my desk, leap for the alarm. My hand smashes the fire alarm. Smoke rises as everyone flees the building. I fling flames at my desk. I want to be innocent.

No one is innocent.

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