The Little Match Girl
by Angela Slatter
The walls are a hard patchwork of rough stones. In some places, there’s the dark green of moss, birthed by moisture and the breath of fear. In others there’s nothing but black. Soot from torches has gathered so thickly that I could scratch my name into it, if I knew how to write. The floor wears scattered straw for a coat, stinking and old. No natural light comes into this place, there’s not even a window, the aperture bricked up long ago so no one could flee. And it stinks; the waste bucket sits festering in the corner.
I haven’t seen a mirror in weeks, so I conjure my face in my mind: pale skin, green eyes, black hair. Almost against my will, I superimpose the marks of my stay: dirty smudges on the skin, the eyes red-rimmed, the hair a storm cloud of filth. I try to smooth the ghostly suffering away, try to see my eighteen year old face as it was, but it’s no use. I’m forever marked. I close my eyes, tightly.
In my hand, a weight. A matchbox, silver and hard. Inside are four matches with the power to show me the moments when my life turned, when doors opened and closed, and my path changed forever. I open the matchbox and strike the first match.
About the Author
Angela’s debut novel, Vigil, was released by Jo Fletcher Books in 2016, and the sequels Corpselight and Restoration will follow in 2017 and 2018 respectively. She is the author of eight short story collections, including The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, Sourdough and Other Stories, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, Winter Children and Other Chilling Tales and A Feast of Sorrows: Stories. Her work has been adapted for the screen, and translated into Japanese, Russian, and Bulgarian. Angela has won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, one Ditmar Award, and five Aurealis Awards.
About the Narrator
Dani Cutler has been part of the podcasting community since 2006, hosting and producing her own podcast through 2013. She currently works for KWSS independent radio in Phoenix as their midday announcer, and also organizes a technology conference each year for Phoenix residents to connect with others in the podcast, video, and online community.