until the final flame fades

until the final flame fades

Eunice Leung | Art by Amber Lai

i would rather be incinerated walking across sunbeams

than slowly freeze to death without having ever felt warmth. 


bright bursts of orange light frolic against mundane navy

a figure cloaked in flames invites me to waltz with her.


i know the disastrous consequence that will arise if we touch,

yet i refuse to perish without tasting a sip of freedom’s cloyingly sweet potion.


this time, i don’t bother hesitating. 

i throw myself onto her, surrendering to the hearth’s allure. 


in our first and final embrace, i learn the rhythm of her erratic heartbeats

every curve, every muscle, every detail of her i commit to memory

promising myself to find her in the next lifetime.


wasted years of silent longing culminate in this moment

our spark, once shrouded by twilight, now matures into a ravenous inferno, finally unrestricted to consume as it pleases.

in defiance of destruction, the intensity of our love radiates the luminescence of a thousand candle flames.


the torches begin to smolder, the smoke’s bitter fetor pollutes the skies.


hooded demons rush into my nostrils, attacking my sinuses

we exhale through a desperate kiss, but black fumes choke my breath in —

i cough them down her waiting mouth.


arteries bloom then burst in a violent cascade

her glorious skin bubbles and blisters, melting in drips down her cheeks

amidst quivering amber sunsets, glints of hysteria emerge in her irises

flickers of fear mix with smoky tendrils and snake their way into my mind.


the once-enticing flames have grown annihilating, fueled upon yearning

our hourglass quickly drains, every lost grain pulling us closer to our fate

an acrid stench of burning flesh contaminates once-clean air. 


roars of the inferno drown out my voice

screaming melodies through clogged, shriveled lungs

her arms wrapped around me are too tight; fabric of her shirt suffocating

she won’t let go.


panic floods me.


the sizzle of blackening flesh

to the fire’s maniac crackling

pain flares over my torso, igniting and rekindling again and again.


she does not want to waste a single sand of time

fire has fused two candles into one, and she cannot allow the wax’s shape to change.

she’s determined to hold on until the final flame fades, 

until the last scarlet ember turns to ash.


my candle wick is down to its end. the flame trembles and threatens to extinguish.


while our skin sears under starved spotlight, dry dewdrops start to swelter down my face. 


i would swallow a hundred million suns for you, until i ruptured with light and every organ of my body charred to dust.


our love is the color of a blood-stained carpet.


out of energy now, i surrender, letting my body go limp against hers

i force myself to remember when the two of us would run down hallways giddy with laughter 

while others cursed us for the messy footprints we left behind.


pain and passion blur, heaviness settles into the creases between our bodies

i taste the smoke on her cracked lips.


a hurdle of fire,

we spiral in desire,

consumed by our own fervor,

intertwined souls forever melted together 


she gently blows out my spark.


our spirits descend hand in hand, united by death’s silhouette. 


still, muted grays swirl upon harsh blacks of night

an owl hoots in the distance, terrified, as the wall of flames sprint towards its home

away from the haunted pyre where cinders of bones from doomed lovers rest.


an eerie hush falls over vacant graveyard

as lingering steam slowly dissipates into nothingness

shadows cast on asphalt echo with phantom whispers

the wind howls one final requiem for our love 

burned too bright.