The Things We Have Burned.

As I sit and replay the way the smoke filled up the kitchen tonight from the flames jumping in the oven, showing me how quickly something can burn into nothing, all I can think about is you.

I can only keep coming back to an image of a whole different kind of burning, a whole different kind of something falling violently into nothing. So different, but somehow incredibly the same: the same kind of heat, the same kind of unstoppable force that leaves you staring at the charred remains thinking “how did this happen that fast?” And the same kind of knowing that whether it’s your heart or your dinner, the things we have burned and the ways we have burned them can never be taken back.

Do you know why my kitchen filled with smoke and cries for hands to help me put out the flames? It was so simple, so stupid, such an idiotic mistake. I forgot I put chips in the oven, to warm them up for the soup. Just completely forgot (as if a thing like that was on a list somewhere entitled “Things to Forget Today”). And I am thinking that maybe that’s how you forgot about me too. Don’t we know it now, chips in hot ovens and people who love you with their every breath are not things we should ever let ourselves forget?

You forgot me, just like that, and I waited. But you kept the door shut on my little box inside your mind, and while I was in there, I burned. I burned, and I burned, until I was so very hot from the flames of waiting and despair that I sizzled a hole right through the door and I did not stop to look back. So you screamed that I’d left you, that I’d deserted and not loved you, while I cooled myself off in a pool of my own tears and thought to myself, “but can’t you see, if you hadn’t forgotten me in there, I wouldn’t have sizzled and wiggled my way out. You did the forgetting, you forced the leaving. It was never me.”

Do you know it? It was never me.

Because before you forgot me there in the flames, I had never even imagined wanting to leave.

And here’s where the similarities between the chips in my oven and my heart in your hands end:

We got the chips out in time. We doused the flames before they spread. And although it was a horrible mistake, the house was okay. We were okay.

But my heart, on the other hand… my heart in your hands, was not.

-Jessi Sanders 2012


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