Written by Jinapher J. Hoffman
Inspired by Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love”
“What happens when the world is on fire?”
A brilliant blazing of sunshine, hitting the trees in a way only eyes can see and only minds can breathe. It’s a kaleidoscope of fascinating shadows that dance with such prestige one might think they took classes of the highest at an academy somewhere far away and foreign. It’s a new light so delicate no person could touch with their bare fingers. No, they would need gloves specifically designed to touch the furious flames or else the blood in their veins would boil to a temperature of indescribable heat, putting them in a chaotic frenzy of obnoxious screaming and emergency ringing. It is so ferocious and so indescribable of an image, this fire of the world, that I have no other word to repeat about it except beautiful. The ferocity, the blazing flame of sunset’s light, is like a image only an Angel can look down upon from Heaven.
“You’re trancing again.”
“Oh, right, world on fire…um, it’d be pretty cool,” I answer, hating the fact that everything I say in my head never comes out of my mouth.
“I don’t get you,” says the person who keeps asking me these ridiculous, mind rampaging questions. Her name is Alana.
“Not a lot of people do,” I shrug, shivering in the air as tiny snow flakes begin to fall from the sky and land on my heavy jacket. I send a silent thanks to my mother who had insisted that I wear it, even though it makes me look like I came from the Ice Age…not that I would actually know what people from the Ice Age look like. I’m not immortal, I promise.
“I’ve read your essays for all of those stupid competitions you’ve been entering into. I know you have a lot more to say then you actually are saying,” Alana scoops up some snow and then tosses it off the roof. Yes, the roof. I don’t remember which one of us decided it was a good idea to climb up a slick roof and talk, but now I can’t help but wonder how the hell we are going to get down.
“I like donuts,” I tell her.
“Donuts? Seriously?” Alana frowns.
“What? Are donuts not good enough for you to talk about?” I smirk because I find this so fun, getting under her skin I mean. Whenever she’s angry, it’s so easy to be amused by the mixture of emotions that flash over her face. It’s like watching a woman impersonate every emotion a really awesome book character experiences in 365 pages, except she does it in 3 seconds. I’d say that’s talent right there.
“What about love?” she asks.
“What about it?” I ask back.
“I was leaving the question open ended,” Alana states, crossing her arms to brace herself against the wind.
“As was I,” I counter attack her efforts to get more out of me and her frown deepens.
“You’re infuriating,” She sighs.
“And you’re an impossibly good interrogator,” I announce, sliding towards the snow covered ladder we had set up earlier, praying I wouldn’t gain enough momentum to miss the ladder completely.
“Where are you going?” Alana starts sliding towards me and grabs the hood of my jacket, keeping me from advancing towards the ladder. Then, she does probably the most stupid thing she’s ever done. She kicks the ladder, sending it far out of our reach.
And I thought we were doomed before…
“You are not leaving this rooftop until you answer my questions clearly and thoughtfully. I have a paper to write about you by the end of this week!” Alana shouts, clearly much angrier than I gave her credit for. However, she does have a point. I somehow managed to win one of those stupid writing competitions she brought up earlier, and now I’ve been gifted with her open ended question self. The interview is for some magazine I’ve never even heard of. The only thing I’m grateful for is that the magazine sent someone my age from their staff rather than some twenty-five year old woman who only wears boring black and white clothing.
“Fine,” I exhale a breath of frustration, re-situating myself beside her on the roof, “What is your question?”
Alana smiles as if she just won the noble prize, “About time you show me some respect.”
“And it’s about time you get to your open-endedness,” I wave her forward, “So, go on.”
“Your short story talked about love and what it was to you. The judges found it such a unique piece because of your objection to actually write about the topic of love. So, I want your real opinion on love,” Alana explains.
How many times did she just say love? I think three. That is three too many times. Who does she think she is? The whole reason I wrote my piece on hate instead of love was because I wanted to avoid the matter of love. Does she not get that? Or maybe this is her tactic, getting my mind racing in a frenzy of chaos…And, yes, I wrote about hate. I wrote about hate because 9 times out of 10 we humans put more effort into hating someone than we ever do loving someone. It’s true, and I know Alana knows that too. So, why does she care about love? Love…It’s a four letter word that amounts to an eight letter word every couple “in love” insists upon: infinity.
“I don’t believe in love because I don’t believe in infinity,” I tell Alana, watching the street below us slowly awaken as the sun signals noon. We’d been up on this roof top for hours.
“Infinity?” Alana questions as if the word is foreign to her. Maybe it is.
“Yes. We all measure infinity as a very long time. I used to like the idea of infinity. That was until I realized the infinity is just a figment in our head that we use to keep us going every time we pass boundaries in a relationship. I realized that because infinity is in our heads, it can really only live as long as we do, and that, Alana, is certainly not long enough to waste my time writing a whole story on love,” I say, and for once I am astounded that words were actually processed from my head to my mouth.
Alana doesn’t speak for a long time. For a moment, I wonder if I’ve upset her and then she just starts smiling. The sun’s rays begin glint off her pearly white smile and I actually have to look away to keep from being blinded. She finally turns to face me and I watch as the smile fades and her face goes to all kinds of serious.
“That’s why they call it skinny love, Ben. It only lasts for as long as a person can carry on its legacy, and then it fades, and then it comes back again for someone else in another life. It’s small, but it’s grand. It’s man’s, in my opinion, biggest accomplishment,” Alana tells me, “You’d do well to remember that.”
That, I would.
This short story was brought to you by Jinapher J. Hoffman for her Short Story Thursday segment. All rights are reserved to the author. If you wish to share the story, all credit for the writing must be given to Jinapher J. Hoffman. The song used for inspiration was “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver. Thank-you for reading and be sure to come back on Thursdays for more short stories by this author.