Thrill of Fire
by Ryan Griffith
In mid-air the stereo continues to thump like a heart-beat, the car already ripped through the railing–the boys still more than dentals, more than a cop signaling two with a peace sign–still with skin and liquid eyes that move in their sockets, scars mapping their hands, the car torqued and rolling, a deep groan from the machine, and the still-living boy sees his mouth reflected in the mirror, and he loves his mouth, and the other cranking the wheel as if to steer through air, caught in that holy moment of falling, the spine’s ladder still unbroken, their names still attached to the histories of skin, the throb of life amplified, like the first thrill of fire, when something plain and lovely is destroyed.
Note: This story originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of Night Train and was subsequently chosen as one of the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Stories of 2012.
In the late 90’s I would meet a friend every week at our local dive bar, NuNu’s, to drink beer and share writing in response to an exercise we had devised. This exercise required that we respond fictionally to some news item in order to humanize the objective reportage that had bled the story of its gravity and power. Our goal was to use fiction to empathize with those whose lives had become media fodder and to imagine them with greater depth and complexity. “Thrill of Fire” was written in response to a story I read in the local paper about two boys whose car ripped through the railing, plunging them to their deaths. It was just a tiny article buried beneath the headlines, but it left me thinking about those boys in their final moments. The story allowed me to freeze them in mid-air before they became two more media casualties, imagining them as beautiful, breathing, and alive in flight. I had completely forgotten about “Thrill of Fire” until I discovered it sleeping in an old computer file, over a decade since I had first written it. I thought, this isn’t bad, and sent it off to Night Train.
Ryan Griffith is a writer currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. His work has appeared in elimae, Night Train, Dogzplot, Nanofiction, FictionDaily, and the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Stories of 2012.
FF.Net Editor Commentary (Randall Brown)
I love the contrast between this lives frozen in mid-air and the image of fire, something that would destroy what is plain and lovely in life.