The Flame and the Match
Soft as light, but as searing and torturous as love can be, the still yellow flame stumbled quietly upon her wick.
And taking note, a small matchstick leapt from his box, with no particular understanding as to why. Instead he only felt the warmth and the beauty of the small creature, of some long-sought potential that had welled up inside him, so brilliant piece of himself he had never felt before.
"Love, my dearest, we've never met," said the match, "but I must say, you are nothing if you are not gorgeous."
And the timid flame blushed, and crawled lower upon her small pedestal. "Thank you. Oh, thank you! I've wanted to hear that for so long. For though I have lived for such a small time, I have known no joy such as this. I have wanted only to burn bright, to be recognized, and to warm and adore those very souls that should ever behold my beauty. And yet, that has not happened, for I was not beautiful. Surely, if I was, they would have noticed.
"That is not true," responded her companion. "You see, I am but a match. I am nothing but a head filled with chemicals, the empty shell of what I could be. I am a twig, long lost in a box, with no hope of being noticed until I am used. And being used would be fine; I would pay no mind. To be seen in my brightest for a day, to be something more than I am---to be as you are---would fill me with nothing but bliss. You are lucky, my lovely one. You are all that I need."
And once again, the flame blushed, stumbled against the side of her candle walls, and the tell-tale sign of wax crept below her, and she blushed yet again.
"Oh, how I have needed you! I want nothing else! As I am but a flame perched upon such a twig, so are you such a splinter in want of my flame. We have always been connected, and we are neither one nor the other. In our dreams, we are all the same. Please...please come closer."
And the dumbstruck matchstick did. He teetered over the edge of the compartment in which she was housed, and flung himself at her with such a force that he had never known. Sparks flew at that very instant, and he felt an innocence and a beauty he had never known before her. And together, they burned brighter than they had ever even hoped to have burned.
"Oh darling, you are wonderful to me," said the flame.
"And you to me," breathed the match in a whisper.
"I need you, and always have."
"And I, too!"
While their flames continued to rise, each one curling around the other, not one flick of light dancing more on one lover than their new equal.
But, as the flames reached their peak, so did the poor match. He gasped his final goodbyes as quickly as his new greeting. "I love you, my dear. And though I leave, there will always be boxes upon boxes just like me."
"But none will burn the same!" cried the flame, and she wept and shivered in all directions, until the whisper of one mere word would extinguish her.
"No...no..." responded the match. "No chemical compound can burn quite the same. We are always an interesting mix. But as long as light is willing, please burn. Y-you have given me so much; please keep shining...as you are. The world deserves to s-see a soul so...so pretty. "
And the last bit of life of the match was lost with his words. Embers engulfed him a short while longer, the essence of what he had...but they, too, were finally gone at last.
Of course, one can hardly expect such a tragic loss to be taken well. And to live for any time without her love was a heresy to our gentle flame. She flicked and shuddered in rapid, fleeting motions, gripped the side of her wick for support, and filled her waxen sanctuary with tears, until a pool was formed beneath her. Still she cried, and in her dimming moments, watched her lover's sweet body engulfed in her misery, until he disappeared far beneath her.
"My sweet one, please wait for me. Please...please don't leave me like this! Oh, please, please don't. For although I have met you for only an instant, and I have known nothing sweeter, I know of no joy that could since compare to our brightest fleeting moment, our gentle embrace! Love, I will be there. I'll never enjoy the shortest of lives without you! Oh, dearest, please wait."
And the soft pool of wax formed around her frantic gestures, until she could no longer cling to the blackened wick for support. She thrust herself into the white pool about her, and extinguished herself with one last, calm whisper:
"Love, my love, I am here."
For whatever beauty we find, we find in ourselves. No beauty is hollow...only ill-pursued.