When You Wish Upon a Matchstick [flash fiction]

            Once upon a time, when you wish upon a matchstick, you find yourself in a glorious land far beyond the bounds of Earth. This does not necessarily mean that things are great, but when you wish upon that matchstick, striking it and watching the flame grow around the tip in between your eyes and in front of your nose, you see things from a new perspective.

            When you wish upon a matchstick, you are the unsung hero in their old stories, stories of your past life and how you vanquished evil dragons. Now, though, dragons are not the problem: evil kings and political pawns terrorize the kingdom. The villagers all say you are the only one who can save them. You tell them this is not true: it will take everyone to ensure collective safety and happiness. Revolution is not an easy nor romantic road.

            In that moment you wish upon a matchstick, your ordinary life flickers away to sword fights and magic and protecting others. Your armor is not just physical, but it builds within yourself too. You swell not with pride, but with duty. In turn, you do not hoard that duty to yourself: you learn to share it with the others, and so the villagers gain strength too.

            Once upon a matchstick, as memories of your old life—holiday dinners and lights—fade, you find yourself entrenched in believing a new world is possible. Together, you and the villagers and the rebellion rise up against an evil monarch, one who would rather lock himself away in his castle, and lock his daughters in towers, than admit his wrongdoings.

            In the growing flame of the matchstick, you see a whole world bloom before your eyes. Villagers providing aid to each other, teaching each other, and speculating on the outcome. You see an infiltration in progress, a coup, and more. You see the innate possibilities each person can bring to build something better. The king is locked away to serve his due time, and the villagers prevail.

            In the flicker of a matchstick, one that is about to fade, you understand that your time here was only temporary. You will be but a memory, just as you were in your past life facing the dragons. Then, you worked alone, followed Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” to a tea. Now? It is because of everyone, you included, that made this new world grow.

            The flame of the matchstick does not last forever, and neither do wishes: the world thrives on balance, even if the balance is unfair. So you say good-bye to this world as the flame licks down to the edge of the match, toward your fingers. You choose to blow it out. You choose to wonder what that world will look like next time you see it, or if it will even be the same world.

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