Identifiables go first. It’ll all burn the same, but I’m paranoid, and I want my IDs to melt and liquify till there’s no chance of being found before burning the other, more important things. There’s no way of googling this without looking like a weirdo, so the first time will have to be a charm.
I’m in the middle of the woods, looking like a witch preparing a meeting of a coven. I was responsible enough, though, to set up contingency plans. I have a fire blanket, for instance. I don’t want the whole forest going down with me.
Clothes are next, because I figure the fabrics will create a slow burn that can sustain the rest of it. I’ll only keep what can fit in a small backpack, and that sure as hell won’t include the clothes with dark memories attached to them.
So the fancy bras go first. I feel like a ‘70s feminist until I remind myself that mine is a selfish liberation–a revolution of one. And soon, that one will cease to exist to the rest of the world.
The slips, the graphic tees, the pajamas with cats on them. Truth be told, my backpack is already packed–filled with muted colors, whites and grays and blacks. Clothes I’ve never worn before, never would’ve worn before.
Everything must go. Like a going out of business sale at a store with sentimental value but no prospects of a future. I mentally prepared for this, knew what I had to do, but the tears fall anyway. There’s no way to practice dying, even if you know you’ll keep breathing afterward.
There’s an origin story. Of course there is. I won’t get too into mine, but it mostly consists of hurt and death. The real death of others, the almost-death of myself at my own hands, and now this fake death I’m staging. Permutations of death, caressed by a jazzy, sullen sadness. A singer under a lone and foggy spotlight, scatting the blues over improvised chords that somehow find their form.
Photo albums, old letters and notes, postcards from places I’ve never been but others have. All curling and yellowing inside the pale fire on this cold night, snow around the fire like a cosmic contradiction.
The rest of it goes in easy after that. Trash bags that I filled with my things, emptied out into the fire, trash bags that I dragged over from the trunk of my car, the car that I’ll douse with gasoline and torch when I’m done here.
This first fire dies, and I kick in dirt to cover the ashes, snow to cover the dirt. And just like that, I’m gone. Dead but still breathing.
I walk back to the car, gas can in hand and lighter in my pocket. The full moon’s peeking up low behind the bare trees of this quiet forest. There really is life after death.