Chapter Three: How I Managed to Set Myself on Fire

February 6th 2010.
February 5th 2011.
Tonight I am having a dinner, to celebrate my burnaversary, if you will. All year I thought this was very droll of me. But suddenly it’s not funny anymore.

Chapter One
Chapter Two

At the party we huddled in the bathroom among sparkles and feathers and false eyelashes. My friends wrapped up my torso in double-sided tape -so tight I could barely breathe- and then covered me in cotton wool. My mood improved. I decided to leave my hair down because it was long enough to do so for the first time in years. I did my make-up which included a little black nose. I took one last look at myself and turned around to leave and enter the party. Just before I crossed the threshold, I stopped, turned around and tied my hair up for some reason.

As we dashed around putting the finishing touches to the party, I noticed that the cotton wool was already falling off. My friend gave me a quick spray with some glitter to help it stick better. It kind of worked. I continued helping with putting the final touches to the house.

My job was to place the tea-lights.

A while later, as the party was beginning to heat up, I was sitting on a couch next to a bumble bee and a lady bug. In order to be comfortable, I had to keep my back poker straight. It was very uncomfortable and it was preventing me from my enjoying myself. The insects suggested I take it off. My sheep costume had been seen and admired, i.e.: job done.
I said, ‘Good idea. I’ll have one more cigarette and then I’ll go change.’

I stood up and wandered over to the desk where I had hidden my bag; the office had been sectioned off by some curtains. I leant over the table and then jumped back immediately. I could see orange flames dancing from hip to hip. I beat my abdomen like a drum, panicking, but not yet scared. Ten seconds later, I had not put out the fire. In fact, it was spreading. Hello, terror. This entire time, I had had my back to the room. Now I whipped around. The fire had already risen to my ribs.

I started screaming. Get it off me! Get it off me! I was twirling round and round like a ballerina from hell. The flames were tickling my underarms but I wasn’t laughing. Everyone was staring at me in shock. I changed the tune of my screams. Somebody do something, please! It’s nice to know that my manners are in tact even when I’m on fire.

No one could move. I couldn’t stop screaming. Then I looked up and saw one of my dearest friends right in front of me. She threw her glass of water at me but it didn’t make a difference. By that point, I was dressed in flames from thigh to neck. It occurred me to that there was nothing I could do. I stood still and stared at her for a moment. Later she would say that it was one of the most horrifying things she’d ever seen: to see the light of hope go out of someone’s eyes. There was nothing I could do. I closed my eyes. I slumped to the floor.

Again, I must apologise for the clinical tone. For the first time in months, I went through the motions of telling this story in therapy. It felt like just that: telling a story. I have been told that this is okay. That first you say the story mechanically and then, eventually, it will hit you. Right now though, I don’t think I’m quite able to get into the emotional cogs of the whole burning lamb fiasco.

Aaaaand because I KEEP ON FORGETTING! I have edited my About A Girl page so wander over and have a peek! There you will find links to everything else I do online (read: being a shit Tweeter, an occasional Tumblr and a rare Running in Heels-er), plus a link to like my page on Facebook. Not that you need to know that because YOU’VE ALREADY DONE IT, RIGHT?


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I drink, I laugh, I smoke, I write.

19 thoughts on “Chapter Three: How I Managed to Set Myself on Fire”

  1. Wow. You really are brave Alexia.
    I can’t even imagine how scary it must have been.
    Also glad you spoke about it in therapy.

  2. Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow. ~Mary Anne Radmacher


  3. when I was reading this I was screaming in my head, “take the leotard OFF HER! GET THE LEOTARD OFF HER!”
    if only it was that easy to think clearly when the need is immediate.
    how did the fire get put out…?

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