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The candle's flame flickers dangerously in the cool air of the night. I gently pull the stick of wax out of its holder and toss the dull metal to the side.
"Fire mine," I murmur softly as I lift the candle up to my face. "Fire, are you truly mine?"
Hot wax slowly drips down on to my skin and hardens, the white standing out garishly against my dark colouring . The sharp pain registers somewhere in the back of my mind, but I ignore it.
Forgetting about the beautiful-menacing flame that I hold in my hands, I glance down at my arm. Pale blue dots are painted in spirals all over my body. I lift my right hand to trace the raised pattern.
"Keira, don't do it," a male voice says from behind me.
I don't need to turn around to see who spoke. "I have to, Corey. They told me to." Corey steps closer and touches my shoulder cautiously, as if he were afraid that I would attack him.
"They aren't real." He speaks so quietly that his voice is barely above a whisper. "Give me the candle. This isn't necessary."
I spin around to face him. I step closer, intentionally invading Corey's personal space. "They're real, Corey. Just because you don't hear them, it doesn't mean that they don't exist. I'm the chosen one; they told me!"
"Yes Keira, I understand. They told you. But that doesn't mean that you should hurt yourself. We can go back to the doctor, and she'll make you all better," he soothes. Corey's face is etched with worry. Worry for me. It's infuriating.
"I'm not sick! That doctor's wrong. They say I'm mad. I'm not mad, Corey. I'm not!" I glare at his overly-calm face. "And I'm not a wild animal, either."
I yank my arm out of his grasp and run to the center of the dry field, careful to guard the candle's flame from the wind. When I turn back to him, I can see Corey's expression changing from confusion, to surprise, to worry as he registers that I'm actually going to do it.
I lower myself down onto the ground and hold the candle between my knees. I lift my hands to touch my shaved head. "I'm doing it." My voice is a hiss that's strange to my own ears. "I'm doing it. Soon, I'll be with you."
Corey is limp-running toward me, slowed down by an injured leg.
He's too late. I carefully touch the candle's flame to the long, dry grass. It immediately erupts into flames.
I reach my hand into the fire and retrieve a handful of burning grass. I stand up, and the flames reach up to embrace me. I look down at the fire in my hand, then at Corey.
His face is a mask of shock and disbelief. "Keira!" he screams as he sprints even faster, his body drenched in sweat from heat and running. "Keira, it's okay. I'll get you out--"
I lift a finger to my lips. "Shh..." I reach out my arms, enjoying the blistering heat. "Fire mine, Corey. Fire mine."