The Match

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Another look at a famous tale by Hans Christian Anderson

Submitted: June 24, 2010

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Submitted: June 24, 2010

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As I was walking home one day, I saw the Little Match Girl.

She was sitting under the bridge, crying softly to herself. Her right hand, which was visible to me, was clutching tightly at something partially obscured, as if it were the most precious thing in the world. Even though I already knew what it was and how things would turn out, I went over.

As I approached, she looked up with me, hope shining in her teary eyes. I really couldn't bear to look. It was too ugly a sight."Mister," she started.

As much as I would like to continue this conversation, I had no money for her, and no wish to disrupt the natural order of things. Hell, she was meant to die, who was I in the Great Order of Things to stop her?

My tone was kindly. "I'm sure I have nothing I can give you, little girl, you see, I left my walle-"

"Yes there is, Mister. Could you please lend me a lighter? I have nothing to strike my matches with, since my box is wet from the rain, and I saw you smoking a cigarette just now."

Darn observation. Oh well, as long as she wasn't out for money...

I watched her warily, in case she tried anything. In case she was REALLY tired of freezing to death over and over again. Oh please, which idiot would want to freeze to death? If I were her, I would jump on me immediately and claw at anything I can, even if it were only the cheap, scrabby fur coat I was wearing. It would at least stop her from dying.

She didn't try anything. The hope in her eyes did not fade out.I slowly moved my fingers inside my coat pocket, and using my index and middle finger, lifted my humble lighter free from the restrains of the coat, into the cold, crisp December night air. Not wanting to have any form of contact with her, no matter how slight or temporal, I dropped the lighter in front of her. It landed with a sharp, resounding thud that echoed into the hungry darkness of the night.

She didn't seem to notice my disdain, nor the careful, but purposeful action of dropping the lighter. Her eyes followed the lighter as it dropped, and the moment it touched the floor, she scrambled at it, like a hungry dog would grab at scraps and morsels. It was pathetic.

With one swift, seemingly well-trained movement, she grabbed something(s) from within her tattered pocket, and, with clearly and annoyingly visible mud-crusted fingers, laid them out in front of her, on a small, dry patch of floor beside her. As she removed her hand, I saw that they were matches. Oh-so-surprising.

She took up the one of the matches, and MY lighter, and clicked the wheel-

"Hang on, what do you think you are doing?" I couldn't stop myself from asking.

"Why, I need to keep warm, Mister. I am not wearing a coat, like you." She smiled weakly at me, but despite that, she looked at me as if I were an ignorant child, full of naivities. My face flushed.

"Of course I know that," I snapped. "But hell, three pathetic matches won't keep you alive. And it's not as if you DON'T KNOW what's going to happen anyway. What's the point? Just get it over and done with." I added unkindly, impatience and frustration evident in my voice.

"Of course I know," she said matter-of-factly, as if dying were the most obvious and prevalent thing to happen to anyone in the world.

Silence ensued. At that moment of time, the howling of the wind outside was veiled from us, hidden in another world.

Looking away from me and back to her precious matches, she clicked the wheel again, and lifted the flame to the match. It flared-

And then the world changed.

I saw myself as a child, running through a green, lush meadow. My steps were childish, awkward, to the point that I wanted to rush over to stop myself from falling down a couple of times. But I restrained myself. I continued watching as the then-me pitter-pattered away, gleeful delight obvious on every facial feature. I followed, steps landing noiselessly on the dense greenery beneath me.

It seemed as if the sea of emerald would never end; but then the then-me seemed to see something, and started running even more excitedly (if that were possible). Sensing his goal was near, I hurried, too.

I saw a humble, pretty cottage in front of me, with large patches of dandelions and rhoderions growing around it, unkempt, but still exuding life and warmth. Then-me pitter-pattered through the poor dandelions, until he came to the door. Just at that point of time, it opened. A figure stepped out. It was my mother.

My mother scolded then-me in a not-so-unkindly way. It was only from the frown on my mother's face, her slightly agitated gestures, and then-me's half-fearful, half-mischievious face that I knew it was scolding: I couldn't make out what either were saying at all.

There was some respite for then-me, when Mother stopped for a short breath. She then made to continue her rant again, but seeing the innocence on then-me's face, she stopped. Shaking her head, and smiling, she lifted then-me up and kissed me on the cheek. With a last, feather-light spank, she carried then-me into the cottage, and closed the door on me.

The scene before me dissolved-

and I was dropped, unceremoniously, back into reality. I collapsed to my hands and knees, gasping for air - it seemed that I had been holding my breath for the entirety of that vision, which must have spanned only a few seconds.

Amidst the dampness and darkness, I couldn't be sure, but I thought I saw a drop of what suspiciously looked like a tear drip from me onto the concrete floor, with a soft thud.

Then I remembered that the Little Match Girl was still there. Looking up, I saw her looking at me, with an unfathomable expression in her eyes. There was a myriad of expressions within them, which I couldn't read. I thought I saw pity. But why would she feel pity for me?

A few moments passed, during which I caught my breath. I stood up to go.

"Wait."

I stopped.

Unspeaking, she rose up from her kneeling position, and walked over to me, pressing something into my palm. Something wooden and hard. I didn't have to look.

"I need the last one to die, but I can give you this. Hopefully with this, you can re-ignite the fire that was once in you. And maybe, you can re-ignite someone else's too. That would be good."

She shuffled back, silent as a ghost. I knew that her time was almost up. I wiped the moisture from my eyes, and slowly walked away.

Far out into the distance. Where I knew I had my own fire to remember.


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