In the Torrid Part of my Heart
Francine Witte
Tapas Winner

lives Reggie.  Reggie of don’t-fall-for-me fame.            

I don’t care that he’s screaming to get out.  Late at night, when I hear the scritch-scratch of his nails, I just smile and pat him deeper into my chest.            

I am keenly aware he is not alone, but I can’t let anyone go.  Sure, the others have cooled now – Bob, Timmy, other Bob – but they are there for the nights they torched me to the ground.            

Sometimes, Reggie is all bangity-bang and cymbal crash.  He is trying to rouse the others.  “It’s hot in here!” he is shouting. “We have to get out!”            

Silly Reggie.  I have to smirk.  He should have thought of that yesterday.  Heat of volcano.  Earthquake thrum.  He looked into my eyes, barnfire.  Whispered something about living for the moment.  He wasn’t happy till my hands began scorchburning, curled and black-edged like paper.             

It took hours to put it all out, and now, there’s the part of my heart that still smolders, and that’s where Reggie is going to stay.            

In time, his screams will stuff themselves up with cotton.  The others will teach him how to burn down to coals.

First published: August, 2010
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