Ashes

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She picked at the frayed ends of her hair, loose sandy tendrils twining around her fingers in the breeze. The cigarette was mashed into a knot in the tree stump beside her, in the company of several others she couldn't remember smoking. She shut her eyes as she thrust her hands into the cool, damp grass under her knees. Took a slow, deliberate breath and exhaled. The sharp smell of smoke still burned her from the inside, familiar and foreign at once. This smoke was different, heavier.

She'd always enjoyed the smell of burning wood and cigarettes. But she loved the smell of extinguished flames the most.

She opened her eyes and blinked against the sting. She wanted to look at the smoldering ruins, burn the image into her mind. With one hand she wiped at her face, smudging ash across her cheek. With the other she reached for her jacket pocket and rubbed her thumb over the smooth metal of the lighter.