Slow Burn: Fire for Forgetting 

The death came on slowly for the two of them. He never considered their break-up to be the equivalent to a flame that burns out. Instead, he likened the initial love that existed between them to pre-flame chaparral. For him, the end of their relationship began with a fire first lit from the ember of his hate for her demonstrative laugh and later spread throughout the rest of their native southwest coastal terrain--thus, moving their sagebrush leaves of love through to their complete life cycle. By the time they called it quits, the fire was in full force and he had progressed to hating even the sound of her breathing.

Over their three years together, he started to read new meaning into her laugh. Before, it made him adore her more; it was her signature that marked who she was and who he loved. Now, he realized that it was just the work of ventriloquism. She rarely laughed because something was truly funny. It was just a theatrical ploy to give life to a character that was only make-believe. Her seal barks that were introduced by a near-scream were just a false advertisement to signify, "Look at me! I have a zest for life! I'm passionate! I'm vivacious!" With the infrequency of their lovemaking over the last two years of their relationship, he had come to know the truth. She was a cold, wooden stiff in bed that would never come to life no matter how much voice you threw on her.

The death came on too slowly for the two of us. The cigarette had burned to the filter and was in desperate need of being snuffed out. It had never been a practice for me to regret the choices I made in my life but, I quietly wished that smoke never got lit. If destiny had offered me the choice between a Zippo and a book of matches back then, I would have taken the matches and hoped for the Santa Ana winds.

For three years, I had to play the laugh track to his never funny jokes. Every night was amateur night at the comedy club with him, and every night was a lonely night for me as the audience of one. I think I was hoping to jump start some long-lost enthusiasm for his "witty" banter; the louder I laughed, the funnier I could pretend he was. Sometimes I think it's easier to fake an orgasm, but the opportunity never materialized during any night together in bed. I would lose the desire to perform by the time I joined him in his jammies. In bed, I was Lot's wife. If I ever dared to look back at him and imagine the potential for intimacy beyond spooning, it would give me salty paralysis.