By Angela Slatter
Read by Dani Cutler
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.