“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”
When I was a child, my house caught fire. Such bright light in the night. Once it had gone out, everything was blackened with soot, softened as a piece of spoiled fruit. As though each object could be erased, could keep its secrets for eternity. This was when I learned to love transformation.
When my lover left me I stared hard at the candle’s flame, flickering above our kitchen table. It had its own spirit and I put on that spirit like an old coat hidden in the back of the closet. I was extinguished and reanimated. A foreigner to myself. I could be the dark side of fire, the smoke that lingers and then dissipates. This is my strength. This is how I disappear.
A wildfire spreads under a gray sky. I abide in the wind and salt air like a creature of the cold, accustomed to closing, to hiding smaller selves within until they can no longer be found. In this marsh, water mirrors birds, their dark shapes rise in the sky and rise in the water, but they disappear along the shore as if they flew into an invisible sphere where they may be forgotten or ignored.
Kassandra Montag grew up in rural Nebraska and now lives in Omaha with her husband and two sons. She holds a master’s degree in English Literature and her award-winning poetry and short fiction has appeared in journals and anthologies, including Midwestern Gothic, Nebraska Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and Mystery Weekly Magazine. After the Flood is her first novel.