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 Slatter is the author of the Verity Fassbinder urban fantasy series (Vigil, Corpselight and Restoration, published by Jo Fletcher Books) as well as eight short story collections, including The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings and A Feast of Sorrows: Stories. She has a PhD in Creative Writing and was an inaugural Queensland Writers Fellow. She’s won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, a Ditmar Award, an Australian Shadows Award and six Aurealis Awards; her debut novel was nominated for the Dublin Literary Award. Her work has been adapted for the screen, and translated into French, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, and Bulgarian. Victoria Madden of Sweet Potato Films (The Kettering Incident) has optioned her novelette “Finnegan’s Field”.
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.