The Flames of Relief.

by Shan Shaikh

My niece's laughter echoed through the living room. Although my mind was immersed in the film we had rented, my curiosity got the best of me and I got up to see what was so funny. My mother was out in the backyard burning old love letters.

The flame on the grill, which we used to make lunch, was large enough to consume the piles of letters she had collected over the years. 19 years, to be exact. She looked at me with a smile and asked if I had anything I wanted to burn. I ran into my room, flung open my vault door, and retrieved a container hidden beneath all of the memories I had collected so far. The container was filled to the very top with letters, and small notes and such, given to me throughout my journey in the depths of teenage drama. She had written quite a few pieces about me.

I ran back outside and popped open the top and began throwing the once cherished pieces of writing into the growing, red flames. Like predicted, the intangible soon became nothing but ash. The whites of each canvas grew darker and darker as the heat diminished any sign of life. My mother and I laughed about it. We would read certain pieces aloud before we tossed them in. I took photos of the flames because, it was one of the most beautiful displays of growth I had ever seen, and I didn't want to forget it.

My niece's laughter faded with time and she began picking out her favorite cards from our pile. She didn't let us burn the ones that caught her eye, but she did help us burn a few that she thought were “ugly” or looked like “poo”. When the flames had vanished, and the once piles of letters were now nothing more than memories, my mother and I finished the film we had started. My niece, on the other hand, sat in her pile of cards. Quiet. Thinking about what it feels like to fall in love.