If Only You Could Put Your Fire Out First

In the beginning, he taught me about fear. I liked that one, so I decided to remember it.

‘Why do you speak of fear in the third person? Fear has no identity. You are the fear.’

He also taught me about the ugly side of love. I hated that one, so I can’t seem to forget it.

‘I never felt suffocated by your presence,’ I said during an argument, saddened by his words.

He kissed me gently, and that hurt the most. I knew I had no power to upset him. I knew I had no power over him.

‘That’s because you don’t have a world of your own, baby. That’s why you were so eager to make room in mine. But here you are just a visitor, no matter how many times you try to dust it off, buy matching curtains, or bring your stuff. The next morning, it’s all gone. It’s built on a foundation you’ll never fully understand, and you’ll always be cold and hungry inside. There’s simply nothing here for you, because everything was made for me. Are you happy sleeping on the couch night after night?’

The paths we walk with someone can become such tangled, knotted messes.

There’s a certain beauty in painting outside the lines, too. Outstretching your arms for things at top volume, at their most difficult, at their most needlessly complex, only to remind yourself that you are alive, that you are fresh, that you are worth fighting for. You marvel at your own fire and every What’s so wrong with it? fades away. You wonder what it takes for others to see what you see. You know it’s there to light the way, not to burn them.

But not everyone can love it like you do, and it takes a long time for you to accept that. When all parts of you are constantly on fire, it’s only a matter of time before you can’t hide anymore. Until they start catching glimpses and end up deciding for you whether you are radiant or too much. Over time, you love it a little less for it. You think you don’t need it as much. You think you can see ahead just fine without your own light to guide you, because don’t they know better? Don’t you love them more? Wouldn’t you like to follow them, if only you could put out your fire first?

So you think you can fool them into thinking you are this watered-down version of yourself that’s easy to love. So easy to love that they will just do it. You refine it to pure, quiet perfection. What’s not to love about it? When it gets quiet, you ask yourself the opposite. It’s so dead, you think, no wonder they don’t love me. Eventually you’ll light up again. You won’t be able to see your way out of the darkness otherwise. But it takes you a long time.

One night I was standing by the window looking at our reflection, as if watching an old movie knowing that the actors were now dead. He told me that he liked my silence.

‘What do you mean?’ I asked.

‘This. Sitting in silence, like this.’

His voice continued to echo in my head for a while.

I, too, liked sitting in silence from time to time. I liked his arms wrapped tightly around me. I liked the intimacies we shared, the hands and breaths and little secrets I could never write about. Mostly he was good-natured when I didn’t push too hard, and his sleepy voice made me smile, and the stories about our half made-up past made everyone laugh. But there was always something missing. I was always missing.

If you liked my fire too, maybe we’d come alive again, I thought.

It was the end.

10 thoughts on “If Only You Could Put Your Fire Out First”

  1. […] There’s a certain beauty about being a mess, too. Painting outside the lines, outstretching your arms for things at top volume, at their most difficult, at their most needlessly complex, reminding yourself that you are alive, that you are fresh, that you are worth fighting for. It’s the other side of ordinarily beautiful, the side where you get to when you fall right through the cracks and think you’re flying. If you like explosive, fragile, mysterious, effervescent, the day you land is your first lucky day in hell, and you are the brightest fire. […] […]


  2. This is so amazing, I had to link it to a dozen of my friends and sort of caps-lock-yell and point to the link, virtually screaming “See? This is what I’ve been trying to tell you all this time!”
    Much love!


  3. You are so right Nancy! If I could write with such opalescent mad beauty, I would be in love with myself. :) Well, not myself. I would feel in love with, and indebted to, the genius who wrote the first ever words. Anca really gives something precious and alive. Thanks Anca! And thanks Nancy. :)


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