Up in Flames


It was hot. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but the pain was unbearable. She’s scared and angry, but not at me. I can’t blame her; I hate the guy for what he did to her. She deserves happiness, and if burning me makes her feel the joy she longs for, then I won’t stop her.

Mother was the most important person in my life. She never talked about my father; I’m not sure if she knows who he was, to be completely honest. Most of my life was spent watching her date man after man, with nothing but heartbreak in the end. After one of her bad dates, she would let her steam out on me. It was the least I could do being her only son. I just wanted to make her happy.

When she got home after a terrible date, she was wasted and stumbled all over the place. It didn’t stop her from escalating to violence against me. I think she needed to let her anger out on a man, and since I was the only man in the house, she chose me.

Burning me is what she liked. She said once, “Hearing your flesh sizzle gives me a sense of power. A power I never had and will never have over any man, except you.” A fire poker was her favorite tool to use to achieve this. I hated it because it hurt the most, and the burns were always so profound. I’d prefer it if she burnt out her cigarettes on me.

I moved out of that house as soon as I was old enough. After years of enduring that torture, I couldn’t take it anymore. A few years after I moved out, she passed away. Sometimes, I blame myself for her death. She had lung cancer from all the smoking. I wonder if she would have smoked less if I was still around to burn fire pokers on.

When cancer consumed her to the point of being unable to continue with life, she decided not to be kept alive on the machines, leaving me in charge of her estates. Before she died, she met with a lawyer to discuss her will. In her will, she left a letter addressed to me. It said, “To my darling son, of all the men in my life, you were the only one never to let me down. I will always be with you.”

Mother, you are most certainly with me.

My first one was beautiful. Her hair reminded me of a warm summer day, the kind with no clouds in the sky, and a cold drink in my hand. Her skin was sun-kissed and smooth, and her hair was a beautiful shade of orange. Vibrant and captivating.

It was essential to do what I could to make a good impression. I performed a test to see if they fit my requirements; it was a guideline I follow. Only the ones who pass would be welcomed in my chambers.

Even though I didn’t know her name, her beauty struck me deeply. I asked her out hundreds of times, but her answer was always no. Good. You will do perfectly.

One night, I followed her to her car. She was searching for her keys very slowly like she had no fear in the world that someone was watching her. How naïve, how careless of her to assume something so innocent. Before she even knew I was there, I slipped behind her with a rag dipped in chloroform and waited until the chemical did its job before loading her safely into my car.

When we arrived at the house, I brought her down to the basement as carefully as possible. I didn’t want a slip of the hand to cause any damage done to her. Everything needed to be perfect.

She was strapped to the table before her eyes began to open. The first thing she saw was the light above and the ceiling of the basement. Fear had sunk in; I could smell it.

“You’re probably wondering what just happened. I can only imagine waking up to an unfamiliar ceiling, and a man can be somewhat confusing. I’ll make it quick, as I’d like to get to work soon. There is so much I want to do to you.

You rejected me, repeatedly, for no real reason at all. What did I do to deserve your rejection? I was a gentleman and showed you nothing but respect. I took a vow to always treat women with respect after seeing my mother treated like garbage my entire life. In turn, she took it out on me. Even though I was nothing but a loving son to her, I decided I would never let another woman treat me disrespectfully. Never to let another woman hurt me as my mother did.

You disrespected and hurt me when you rejected me. I was nothing but pleasant to you, holding the door open, buying your coffee, helping you to your car late at night to protect you from criminals. But now, I’m no longer obligated to be a gentleman.”

Her mouth was taped shut. There was no reason for her to respond or attempt to defend. I’ve made my decision, and now, she will learn.

Her eyes lit up just as I lit my first cigarette. Oh, the smell brought back memories – dark, painful memories of torture. For my first victim, I want this to be perfect. I didn’t let the cigarette touch her skin for long. Just long enough to hear the sizzle of her skin and her cries of pain through the duct tape. After the last cigarette burnt out, it seemed as though the pain in her eyes had vanished. This just won’t do.

I used a blow torch to heat a metal fire poker. The method my mother loved and I hated – the perfect way to incite more fear. She saw me heating the poker with the blow torch, and tears began streaming down her face. The panic set in, and the regret was evident – too little, too late.

As the poker met her skin, the sound was louder than the cigarettes. It sounded like a fresh egg dropping on a hot skillet. She screamed as loud as she could, but it was no use. My heart was beating much faster after that one. How much pain could she endure?

She survived more burns than I anticipated. In the end, I burned out an entire pack of cigarettes and left ten marks from the fire poker. Her skin was bubbling and red with irritation from the burns. She was no longer as beautiful as the day I first saw her. But her hair was still just as fiery.

Well, now, I can’t just leave her like this. It’s only proper to dispose of garbage in the most economical way possible. I turned on the blow torch, taking in the heat and the blue-white flame produced. The heat from it brought beads of sweat to my forehead. As I looked passed the fire, the fear in her eyes was back. Not only could I see it, but I could smell it combined with the scent of her burning flesh. It was like she knew.

“Goodbye, my little Phoenix. It is time you return to the ashes from where you once came.”

 As beautiful as the day I met her, my Phoenix made the room bright with red and orange flames. I will never forget you, my love. Even though you denied me the chance to show you the love you deserve.

Just like a Phoenix should, your death has brought new life.

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Published by Elle

Everyone has a backstory...what's yours?

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