Flash: William Fenton


Redecorating the study

With a seventy-nine cent lighter I burn the bookcase. I burn the addition and subtraction of books. I burn the forty-five million dust particles. I start the spark that blackens the edges that reddens the centers that fuels the fingers up the shelves.

As soon as the flames reach the second shelf‹the shelf on which her music box rests‹they are ivy climbing the creaky sides, engirdling misshapen shelves of dusty book jackets, sprouting wildflowers in all directions. I open the window, remove the air conditioner, and hurl the bookcase, books, ivy, flowers, dust, and her music box down to the pavement sixty-eight feet below. Everything explodes. Several million bees, keen for the scent of ivy flowers, pour into the room through the open window. They carry everything back into my study: wood splinters, ivy tangles, loose pages, several million of particles of dust and pollen, and her music box, perfectly intact.

Now I’m knee-deep in buff-tailed bumblebees. Stumbling over the Queen, I tumble into debris. Her music box falls open. The revolving cylinder turns the pins that strike the steel-combed teeth that make the music that aches my temples. The buff-tailed bumblebees plunge into the box, carrying arms of ivy, shards of wood, pages of books, and pods of ivy flowers.

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