Casey Vittimberga is a California native whose work has appeared in various literary magazines including Polaris, The Walrus, TeenInk and If & Only If. She is the recipient of the 2013 Ardella Mills Prize in Literary Composition and the second place winner of the 2014 Ohio Northern Fiction Contest. She graduated with a creative writing degree from Mills College, moved to the Silicon Valley with her angsty pet rabbit and now works in tech.
On a late night in February, an old high school friend
calls a bonfire reunion in the dense woods of our hometown.
When I arrive I am greeted with five faces,
figures illuminated in the light of a brilliant blaze.
We drink vodka and scotch under the woodland canopy
and pitch empty bottles into the black forest,
reveling in each resounding crash as the air grows cooler
and the fire breathes hotter.
Frigid fingers wrap wood with leaves and we thrust
our contraptions into the fire, lift torches into the air
as the fire burns aloft. I watch as soot blackens friends’ faces,
torches crumbling and falling from their hands until
my fire rages alone against the blackness of the night.
Quiet settles upon the gathering as the fire crackles softly,
acquaintances growing still and encumbered as their bodies
make a gradual descent into substance. I watch fingers lazily trace
glass bottles, and there is little response when I stand to leave.
The last embers flicker as I make my way
through the tangled weeds away from the forms
that huddle motionless in convention, their faces ghostly
as the night sky envelops the space between them
and the dying cinders gradually burn black.