“Let me out.”
The voice called plaintively from the jar again. It had been calling to Kenny since he found it in the old ladies garage. At first, he’d thought it was the drugs and had grabbed the jar to keep the voice with him. He’d sold the other things he’d found for more drugs but he kept the jar with it’s strange little voice.
“Please, I know you’re there. I’m so hungry.”
Kenny sat with his back against the wall, his knees pulled up beneath his chin, watching the jar and enjoying the colors that were swirling around it. “What do you eat?” he whispered to it then giggled into his knees.
“Will you feed me? I’m so hungry,” the little voice said.
“I don’t know what you eat,” Kenny giggled.
“Anything,” the voice sighed. “Leaves? Sticks? Dry ones would be so nice. Please. I can help you when I’m stronger. I’m so weak right now.”
“Help me how?” Kenny asked, looking around. There were a few leaves against the wall a few feet away.
“However you want, with whatever you want. I’m very powerful when I’ve been fed.”
“I just want to see the colors. They’re expensive, though.” His fingers weren’t really working properly but he managed to pick up the leaves and took them to the jar.
“I can make so many colors,” the voice told him.
“These ones make me feel good,” Kenny said, momentarily stumped by the task of opening the jar.
“I can make you feel good.”
Kenny got his fingers working well enough to open the jar and looked inside as he fed it the leaves he’d found. The inside of the jar was dark and warm and he could see flickers of color as the dry leaves crackled and disappeared.
“Mmm, that was good,” the voice in the jar said. “I need more. Can you get me more?”
“You said their would be colors,” Kenny complained.
“Didn’t you see the colors as I ate the leaves? They were so small, the colors only lasted for a moment. If you get me something bigger, the colors will last longer.”
Kenny went hunting for dried sticks and leaves but, in this part of the city, there were very few to be had. Instead, he fed her paper and the dry trash he could find. Everything flashed and crackled as he fed it to the jar and Kenny sat and watched in wonder as the colors danced before his eyes. He started to see shapes, the most consistent was a woman dancing.
“Did you like that one?” Kenny asked as the colors faded.
“Oh, yes, it was wonderful. Is there anything else? I’m still so hungry,” the voice said plaintively.
“That’s all I can find around here,” he said. “I can’t find anything else that will fit inside the jar.”
“Is there anything bigger? I think I’m strong enough to come out of the jar, if there’s something big you can set me on.”
Kenny’s brow furrowed. “I thought you were the jar. I thought the colors were you eating the things I gave you.”
The voice giggled. “No, the jar is how some nasty magician caught me. He put me in here to keep me from having fun and to starve me until I wasted away to nothing. I’m so glad you found me. You saved me and now I can eat. And when I’m stronger, I can dance. Wouldn’t you like to see me dance?”
Kenny thought to the places he knew in the city. Most of them weren’t dry enough for the voice in the jar, except for one. It was abandoned and he didn’t think anybody else knew about it yet. Surely there would be something it could eat there. “Yes, I know somewhere,” he said.
The jar was hot to the touch but Kenny didn’t feel it except distantly. He was on a mission and determined to carry it out. It almost made him feel the way the drugs did when he first started taking them; floaty and not all there but amazed by the things around him. When they got to the abandoned house, Kenny set the jar down. “I don’t know how to get you out,” he said.
“Just dump the jar over. I’ll get out. Is it nice and dry? I don’t think I could handle anything too damp.”
“Yes, it didn’t hardly snow this year so almost everything is dry. It keeps promising rain but there hasn’t been any in weeks.”
“Oh, it just sounds perfect. Dump me out and let me eat.”
Kenny turned the jar on its side and watched as a pile of ash walked carefully out of the mouth. It looked like a woman and trailed ash along behind it like a dress. It walked to the wood floor, bent down to touch it and started to glow. The colors began to dance again and Kenny watched, mesmerized as the pile of ash turned into a woman made of flame. Once the floor under her started to glow, she stood up slowly and began to dance.
The glow ran along the floor and to the walls and Kenny sat, transfixed by the tiny dancing woman in front of him, watching the pretty colors as they played over the house. It wasn’t until the heat was unbearable that he realized the house was on fire. Panicking, Kenny grabbed the jar and ran out the back door. He came around the front and watched with the neighbors as the house burned. The fire trucks came and put the fire out. Ash spread and covered everything.
A piece landed on Kenny’s shoulder and reached up to stroke his cheek.
“That was lovely,” the piece of ash said. “Now, find me something bigger.”
- Flash Fiction Friday: Husband in the Flame (steponthejourney.wordpress.com)