Ariel, the five-alarm fire


I saved Ariel’s life. Carried her from a burning building and resuscitated her. Soon thereafter, we developed an intense love affair like none I’ve ever experienced. It was like someone doused me in gasoline and lit a match. We’d stay up all night talking, kissing, writing shitty country songs on my out of tune piano; cooking weird, exotic meals even though we weren’t hungry.

After a few months, though, things petered out on her end. I still felt it, but she didn’t. I kept calling and showing up at her place, but she just kept ignoring me. Then, she filed for a restraining order. I was devastated.

Not long after, I heard she was with a guy I knew, down at Ladder 39 on the other side of town. He, too, rescued her from a fire—and, like me, three months later she broke up with him. Three firefighters later, the cops got wise to what was really going on. It was unclear what Ariel really loved—fire, the men who pledged their lives to put them out, or just being saved.

I went to see her in prison. We both picked up the phone and stared at one another through thick glass, saying nothing for what felt like hours. I wanted to tell her that I’d wait for her, that I’d pay for some big shot lawyer for an appeal, that I’d find some way for she and I to be together forever on after. But she beat me to it.

“Don’t wait for me, Knox,” she said, then hung up the phone and walked away.

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