Author's note: This is an entry for CrazyWord's Writing Competition

Azar (Az to his friends) flicked open the engraved Zippo lighter. The one he got on his twenty-first birthday from his brother. He didn’t smoke, and mainly carried it as a keepsake. Tonight was different though.

Tonight he opened his first pack and lit one. He inhaled through the filter and choked a little, being a first timer. He stepped out of his studio apartment, located in the primarily Middle Eastern slum he was living in. He was walking to his job as a tattoo artist. He was also a volunteer fire fighter.

So far there have been few issues regarding his ethnicity. Even though he was born a full American citizen, he got occasional issues. He was good looking, but not strikingly handsome. He kept walking, seeing the occasional familiar face, and eventually got to his job. Given that it’s a tattoo parlor, it’s lax on dress code. He showed up in his usual white tank and black jeans. He liked his tanks, they showed off his many tattoos. He greeted the other employees and artists with a smile. As always.

“Hey Az!” Maya, the desk clerk and only female employee, returned.

“What’s up Maya? Anything new?”

“You ask me that every day. You need time to make history.” With that, she stuck her tongue out at him.

Azar returned it and went to his station. He prepped his needles and inks, and took a look at his schedule for the day. Usual full day. This was the only parlor for around fifty miles, so it was rather popular.

He worked quickly, and one customer ended up not coming. Maya decided to take advantage of Azar’s down time to come up to him and ask him something.

“So… I was wondering…” she started.

“Yes…?” Azar said, starting to get hopeful. He’d had a crush on Maya since his first day there. She was about a year older than him, but that didn’t bother Azar too much.

Maya continued, “Would you…”

“Would I…?”

“Would you like to go grab something to eat tonight?!” Maya quickly spat out, getting frustrated and embarrassed.

Azar’s heart felt like it was in his throat. Tonight’s the night he responded as smoothly as he could.

“Yeah. I’d love to.” He smiled at her gently and Maya gave him a playful punch in the arm while smiling.

Later that night, he and Maya went to one of the popular pizza places. He knew it was cliche, but figured, “Eh, cliches exist for a reason.”

He held the door open for her, and they went to a window booth. Maya ordered two slices of plain, and Azar the same.

“Wow, I guess we’re both just so original!” The sarcasm in Maya’s tone glaringly obvious.

“Heh. Guess so!” Azar replied.

“So, have you been here before? Their pizza any good?”

“Nope! So, I have no idea.”

They both chuckled a little, the nervousness obvious in the tightness of the laughter.

“So, how was your day anyways Maya?” He tried, hoping to start a conversation.

“Eh, the usual. Occasional douche, but otherwise not bad. Yours?"

“Pretty much the same. The no show guy was a surprise though, and right now a very welcome one!”

They both laughed, more natural this time.

Azar kept making small talk and the occasionally witty comment, but he kept wondering what happened with the no show guy. It was extremely odd for something like that to happen at the parlor.

Even with the popularity, it was rare for someone to miss their appointment like that.

“Probably overslept.” He said nonchalantly.

Maya was confused and asked what he was talking about.

Azar had just realized he had said that out loud, and quickly apologized. He explained that he was thinking of what happened with the no show, since it was so uncommon. Maya gave a sound of understanding and they went back to talking. Before they got too far into the conversation, their pizza arrived. Azar had the habit of using a fork and knife to eat his pizza. Maya giggled at it and said it was cute. She tried it one time, and gave up after she cut off too big a piece and couldn’t get it in her mouth.

After the pizza was done, they went outside. The summer night was still warm, so they decided to just walk a little. Azar walked Maya to his favorite spot in the local park. He’d been meaning to ask Maya out for sometime, and the fact she went for him first was going to make his plan go a little smoother.

They sat there for a while and star gazed. Then they started to head home. Maya had lit up his world every day since he started at the tattoo place. Now, he was going to try and light hers up tonight.

He offered his place up, and Maya accepted it after some natural hesitation. They got to his place and he said gently to wait here. She did.

“Close your eyes!!” Azar called sweetly to Maya as he left the room. She did so. Azar returned very quietly, carrying a rag, and snuck up behind her. He quickly moved the rag he was carrying over her face.

She struggled for a little, but quickly fell limp. Azar sighed as she relaxed into his arms, and carried her to the bed. He tied her down to the bed posts and left her there. He got up, and went and gathered the stuff he needed and wanted. His gasoline. His photo albums. His matches.

He poured the gasoline around and on the bed. He made sure to cover Maya too. He sat on the floor, opened up his photo album and started thumbing through the pages. Reminiscing the times when he would wait outside her house and take pictures of her from the street. Always at night. He’d almost been caught by her a few times, but never for sure. He’d followed her a few times and watched her. He’d broken into her house one time and watched her sleep. She never knew.

He sat there until Maya woke up. She almost immediately started panicking, but quickly wore herself out. She started yelling at Azar to let her go.

“Let you go? Nothing could make me do that. You see, I’ve been in love with you ever since I first saw you.”

He stood up and walked over to the bedside with the photo album. He kneeled down and started showing Maya the photographs he’d taken. She soon broke into tears.

“If you just let me up, I’ll stay with you. I won’t run. I swear!” Maya sobbed.

“I’m not about to risk losing you after waiting so long to have you. But, do you want to know something?”

“What?” Maya sobbed, almost hysterical.

“Our names are opposites. Yours means Water. Mine is fire. Heh. Fire. It’s an interesting concept. It’s really just the line spectrum of energy. But who cares about the science? All that’s important now is that my name is fitting for this. Yours, however, is extremely ironic.”

Maya was now starting to smell the gas in the air. She started to panic again.

“Oh god… Please don’t! Azar! No!” she screamed.

“I just want to light up your world like you light up mine, at least for tonight.”

With that, he walked out of the room and lit a match. He dropped it on the trail he made. The gas caught immediately and begin to quickly burn. It trailed all the way to screaming Maya. Azar watched as her flesh bubbled, cracked and charred. He felt a sense of glee when chunks of the screaming woman’s body fell off, smoldering to ash. As he watched this, he started singing the lyrics from, “I Don’t Want To Set the World On Fire,” by the Inkspots.

“I don't want to set the world on fire,
I just want to start a flame in your heart,
In my heart I have but one desire,
And that one is you no other will do.”

Written by Aeternum Nox
Content is available under CC BY-SA