“Love is like a friendship caught on fire.” – Bruce Lee
When we first met, we gathered kindling. We got along well, of course, and you were easy to relate to. You easily became one of my closest friends, even as we tended to other love fires. Acts as simple as Greek pizza Wednesdays was another small twig in ours, while bigger gestures such as the first painting you made me were larger logs. Our kindling was stacked and ready to catch flame.
When you told me how you felt- only three days after the brightest and longest-burning fire in my life had burnt out and the remains soaked completely with tears- you terrified me. I knocked the match out of your hand before you had a chance to light it. I ran away, literally, and attempted to keep the kindling of our friendship in tact by distracting myself with other, smaller, fires. It didn’t work.
When I finally returned home, I told you how I felt. I offered you a small candle- more substantial than the match you had granted me so many months ago, but still liable to run down fast and burn you. Luckily, you’re smarter than me (you’ve always been smarter than me) and you approached the remains of our friendship, stacked the kindling high, and lit the pile.
When you dropped the candle on our friendship, I expected the fire to burst into flame immediately. It didn’t, but instead glowed a bright, clear orange. We talked. Tiny flames began to consume the precariously stacked wood. We kissed. Vast flames blossomed out of the kindling and warmed us, bringing us closer together.
When our fire grew comfortable and reached its largest height, I worried. Our fire was not the largest I had ever burned, nor was it the hottest. Our friendship was stacked unsteadily beneath the flame, and the kindling shifted and crumbled more and more with every miscommunication and mistake. I knew our fire wasn’t going to last forever, but it still singed me the day you decided to stomp it out for good. You claim you wanted to protect our friendship, but the inevitable side effect of tamping out the fire was breaking a few branches of wood beneath.
When the fire was completely gone, I nursed my burns and avoided the kindling, for fear of being burnt again. I wanted to believe you when said we could reassemble our kindling, after the embers had cooled down. Even after a few splinters and mistakes, I thought we could as well. With no intention to burn another fires, we slowly gathered the scattered and mangled wood, until one day, I realized I was the only one in the woods, charred and broken branches still in my hands. You were gone.
When I looked, I saw you lighting a fire with someone else. You had abandoned the ashes of a fire that we had both once valued so highly, and you weren’t coming back. I put down the branches, still clutched in my shaking hands, and walked away.