Setting fire to the forest was such a good idea. It was all of those campers. So happy, so content. Roasting their fucking marshmallows over open fucking flames.
Open fucking flames.
The flames were what did me in, I think. Their light, their beauty. The doctors, the police insisted that I ignore the call. But what would the play be like if Romeo spurned Juliet and fucked Tybalt instead? Because that’s what they wanted me to do with this job building things and clearing out footpaths for lazy hikers so that their cigarette butts wouldn’t set the brush aflame. They wanted me to come out here every day and fuck Tybalt. Fuck him right in the face as Juliet watched, horrified.
My adultery only lasted a short while. They processed me, dressed me in this silly uniform and sent me out into the wilderness to face the bears and the trees and the people- oh, the awful fucking people- without so much as a match to keep me warm, nothing at all to protect me from the elements and the animals and my inescapable fear of being alone.
It’s ironic, I think, that my job provided me with the inspiration necessary to land me in my current predicament. I’d never made love to my muse in a forest before. It had always been behind closed doors and in secluded alleyways that we met for our trysts. She’d dance, slow and sensual, until she peaked, spreading her joy all around, lighting the world with her brilliance. Once you’ve had Juliet, no silly boy will do.
My day had been spent with shovel in hand, clearing away the fallen leaves near a popular camping space. I’d say which one, but that might amount to a confession if these words are ever discovered. As I see it, that much isn’t likely, but stranger things, I’ve been told, have happened.
Getting the materials was surprisingly easy. I’d hung on the periphery of a couple’s vacation spot and listened attentively as they attempted to set up their tent. The two of them were having some trouble agreeing on the best way to construct their shelter, which resulted, as most arguments do, in the gentleman storming off leaving his lady to stamp her frustration in solitude.
He was my choice. Making my way through the underbrush, I spotted him not far from his camp, swearing and furiously lighting a cigarette. I was going to ask him for matches or, as the authority around the park, I could confiscate them in the name of security. But, as it was, my authority was unnecessary.
“Hey, man,” I said. “Sorry to be lame right now, but can I bum a cigarette off you?” I wiped my brow, doing my best to look stressed and tired, attempting to turn my exhilaration into anxiety. “I forgot mine at home this morning.”
He grumbled, but fished one out from his pocket. I took I from him and placed it between my lips. He held up his lighter- oh, his lighter- I could have fucked his hand right then and there- and lit my cigarette. I closed my eyes and pulled my lady’s warm perfume into my lungs. She felt so good.
“Thank you,” I said with sincere gratitude. He grumbled something and wandered off back toward his camp. It was clear to me that the flame, in her brief appearance, had relieved him of his tension. It happens like that early on. I felt a pang of jealousy, but dismissed it just as quickly. No man owns my mistress. She gives what she gives and we should be thankful.
With a spring in my step and a song in my heart, I pirouetted into the forest, relishing the sunshine, the open air, and the wrongness that tinged the whole situation. The police wouldn’t like this. Lady Capulet wouldn’t like this. But I had my love and my love had me and everyone else could go get fucked.
I couldn’t hold it if for long. As soon as I saw a soft, inviting bed of leaves, I dove in. Piling the leaves on my lap, I built a nest for my lovely. As I set the cigarette in the place I had prepared, I could tell my lady was pleased with me. She flickered to life and danced, consuming all I had provided for her within seconds. Feeling the bite of her love on my thighs, I leapt out of the way. My lady didn’t always know her own strength.
She took to our bed like a ravenous animal, tossing and turning, spitting and leaping. Soon enough there was nothing more. But she needed more. I frolicked and jumped about the forest, kicking more and more into her glow. She grew bigger and fiercer and needier. She wanted to play. I constructed a line of leaves, like gunpowder leading to a dame in a western movie. Mine wouldn’t lead to her destruction, though. No. Not my lady. Nothing could destroy her. She was as old as time itself.
My trail lead to a work shed. It was an insignificant thing in her view, but, then again, so was I. And she still loved me. After piling the dead limbs of trees against the walls like a lean-to, I hid inside and watched from the windows. She was coming. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent, so was I. My hands had taken on a life of their own, pawing against me, urging me to find relief before my lady was near.
I only had to last a few more seconds, a couple of minutes at most. But my hands were sabotaging me. Such large and beautiful flames would soon be on us and they wanted to paw me into uselessness. I forced them away from my crotch and made them help me remove my jacket. I had to render them useless or they would ruin everything. I tied the sleeves of the jacket together and fastened all but the top button. I felt pleased as I pulled the jacket over my head like a t-shirt and forced my arms into the sleeves. They were snug and secure and they couldn’t have reached my crotch if they’d wanted to.
And then, as quickly as she had ignited that first cigarette, she was on me. Smoke poured into the shed, seeping in through the spaces between the planks. I leaned backward against the wall, nestled among the extra rakes and shovels and felt my lady enter the structure. Her beauty blinded me, scorching my eyelashes. I turned my head away, playing coy and trying to stop the burning. The feeling was great, but I had to see her to reach my own crescendo.
I felt her rough touch on my shoulder. “Hey!” I cried out. She was usually more careful than this. She didn’t usually make contact with my body. It simply wasn’t necessary. She touched me again and her hand stayed, making my jacket smolder. I reached up to pat out the flame, only to find that, in my homemade restraints, I couldn’t. “Ow!”
“Ow” was our safe word. In the past, whenever she heard it, I was allowed to leave, to run off into the night before anyone caught us. But she wasn’t playing by the rules. Her love was spreading all over my back and my hands could do nothing but struggle against the knot that only grew tighter with each effort.
I dropped to the ground and rolled like they’d told us to do in school. My lady saw what I was doing and got excited. She ignited the leaves on the ground of the shed (which I hadn’t yet seen) and turned the entire building into her furnace. Her uterus.
When I realized, finally, where I was and why she wouldn’t allow me to depart, I almost cried with joy. She was allowing me into the inner sanctum. She was prepared to give all of herself to me. I laid still, making sure that I felt every touch, every sensation. Her bites hurt, but that was just a part of the game. She loved me and I would take anything she was willing to give.
I stared at the ceiling, lost in her brilliant orange stare as she took me. Her Romeo. I could hear the sirens coming. Her family, they would never understand. She’d die to.
The hoses were turned on us. I listened as her life was extinguished, then let go of my own. Star-cross’d lovers in Yosemite. Lost to the world and dead to everyone but ourselves.
My name is Caris O’Malley. I am a writer, a horror film aficionado, a librarian, a dad, and kind of an asshole. I ride a fixed-gear bicycle with but one pedal and, occasionally, wear a hat. You can find my book, The Egg Said Nothing, on Amazon.com.
Copyright Caris O'Malley