She's peeling bandages from her thigh in the floor of his bedroom, long legs splayed, and the sound of salve and raw skin reminds him of sex. She's so beautiful and it's so obviously effortless since he's only seen her wash her face once before bed and they've been dating 3 months. She exudes a rare grace and comfortable confidence that she wears as simply as a sweater. She's tall, thin and when she walks people notice that she's coming their way. Then they turn to follow her before they can stop themselves. She's a dancer. Or, she was, at least, until he set her on fire.
Halloween night was their third date. He'd already been thinking
that maybe he did, but when she arrived at the door dressed as a mummy
he knew he loved her. She was concerned about not being able to afford
a good cosutme on her restaurant hostess salary, so she needed to be
creative. She fretted for weeks about what to wear, then decided
Halloween afternoon to wrap her long, toned limbs in gauze and go as
the undead. They attended a party that night where the women were
dressed in cheerleading uniforms and french maid costumes and catholic
school girl skirts, but he couldn't stop smiling at his martini-sipping
They left the party early and went to her favorite dive bar to play
darts. Hours passed and several bottles of wine were consumed.
Enamored, he couldn't stop touching her when it was her turn to throw.
The last time, as she got up from his embrace to take her turn, he lit
another cigarette and she wrinkled her nose at the smell. He wondered
if she was incentive enough to actually quit this time. In a flash he
decided she was, and teasingly flicked his lighter near what he thought
was the floor near her feet. Instead he made contact with her ankle
where her costume began, sending the gauze encasing her lithe dancer
body into flames.
She's applying more clear gooey sauve to her right thigh where they
cut away flesh for skin grafting. After the accident she didn't go
straight away to the doctor because she wanted to protect him. He
couldn't stop crying for having hurt her. She wanted him to stop
crying, so she said it didn't hurt. The next morning it felt like her
bones were bruised so she saw a physician who promptly treated her
third degree burns. He told her no dancing for twelve weeks.
She didn't see him for two days after her hospital visit. She stayed in bed for 48 hours and rocked herself, numbed from the pain pills, numb to his desperate messages.
It's been three months since that Halloween night, and she tells him she's not sure she'll ever feel like dancing again. She's rewrapping her once perfect legs with white, clean sheets of gauze. Despite her delicate beauty, he's repulsed by how she lookes in the gauze.
He loves her, but she's gained weight since she quit dancing. Her
skin has become dull and her burn scars are extensive. Her legs will
heal, but there will be knotty scars and ugly discoloration where yards
of mole-specked creamy skin used to be. When they fuck he never touches
her below her hips if he can help it. He doesn't understand how, but he
wishes he could tell her he is sickened by the bumps of her wounds when
she locks her legs around him. He often comes too soon by thinking of
someone else, a girl in his office with a preference for seamed
He doesn't know how, but he'll leave her when she's stronger. When she is healthy. For now he'll be still, be silent and wait. For now he'll just sit and finger the lighter that caused it all and try not to watch as she covers her trauma in the floor of his bedroom.