Excerpt from Breed: The Girl of Fire

By: Sarah Ault

I was age twelve when I first drew her.

She was something of a dream, fleeting and momentary, yet the few seconds in which I gazed upon her left an imprint in my brain stronger than any graphite mark could have left. She was unerasable, just as the ink that graced that sterile paper the first time. Her image spilled over onto the sheet in a dark stain, overtaking the white with a new black boldness and assembling that very dream right before my eyes. It was an unfamiliar sensation of pleasure, but unmistakably illegal.

And yet it was so inviting that I continued to reassemble her likeness out of the black stain, each contour and curve giving me a new hope that she might not leave so quickly. I wanted her there, on that paper, for as long as my soul desired. She made me think a thought so unfeasible that in its absurdity it might be possible. She made me think that maybe there were people like her out there. Maybe one day, I could become just like her.

She was the girl of fire. She was vigor, passion, a great deal more powerful than the ink that meticulously crafted her each time. A fire so unstoppable that every passerby had to stop and gaze at her wondrous destruction. A fire so radiant that you might find solace in its warmth. A fire so inviting you might not mind being burnt or aflame if it caught on you. At times I was worried that she burned through the paper, branding the white surface below.

I wanted to tell others. I wanted to show the others around me just how wonderful a thing like her could be, I wanted them to find the same comfort in her heat. I wished her fire would spread, but there was no spark to be found. Eyes stared at me, blank, nearly any color to be found almost engulfed by neighboring white. I thought their beady black pupils might let her in, but there was too much white to see the wonder that the dark world presented. Perhaps it was for the better, for I knew if for one second if the wrong white eyes had glanced upon the black and seen the true darkness it held, she would be extinguished. Gone. All that would be left would be the dream, if there was anything left of me.

So, she became my secret. And when the white became all too overwhelming, I delighted in her darkness. I recreated the same short dark hair, the same flower imprinted on her neck, the same eyes that glowed like a match. I imagined every delicate color, the symphony of a sunset, though there was only white around me.

Today was one of the days where the whiteness ran over, and the only weapon I possessed was the ink. I blinked heavily, feeling my dried eyes snap back from a hazy focus. Releasing the pencil that was habitually woven between my fingers, I silently switched for the black ink pen that I kept sitting on the corner of my steel desk. My eyes darted from wall to wall, seeing if anyone cared to notice my change of focus. But they were consumed, blank. The usual. Their eyes stayed glued to the whiteboard which seemed to pour more valuable information to them, more valuable than a girl of infinite possibilities.

I sighed, already numb to the relief of never being caught. Turning to a sheet of paper that wasn't covered in row after row of informative lead, I watched as the black bled on to the surface. A delightful sense of control and power greeted me again as I painted another version of the girl of fire. This time, I focused on the hands. Though I never remembered this from my vision, she had her hands tightly balled around clumps of sand. The sand weaves through the cracks of her fingers, falling back to the ground. I loved the dynamic power it gave her, embodying immense control.  The grains were people, bending at her will. At times, I longed to be presented with such an advantage. Perhaps I was just one more grain caught in her grasp. One more grain I needed to draw...