Considerations | I Have a Bone to Pick With You

Via Issue 188, The Eternal Flame Issue!

Written by

Mui-Hai Chu

Photographed by

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Styled by

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Zheng Bo. “Pteridophilia I” (2016). 4k Video, Color, Sound. 17 Min. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Gift Of Kejia Wu And Noah Lidman

the world is burning. it’ll be a sensory experience unrivaled. $5 off for early admission they’ll market. i have a bone to pick with you. i haven’t started thinking about eternal flame. i’ve been thinking about it non-stop, as if i breathe this idea. it’s pretty much the only thing i care about really. this idea of attachment that gnaws on your heels like that beloved hellhound, from lifetime to lifetime, something unshakable, something that makes your blood run cold, but simultaneously curdle. to feel upside down. to feel hot. to have souvenir scars. i guess that’s still how i view love. to be jostled. to be afraid of fire from a young age. i was always impressionable, and i continue to be so. i’ve always loved talking about the weather too. i suppose my fear of fire started when i nearly burned down my friend’s house. it was an accident of course, but it was perceived as reckless, and i was never invited back. it was during a science experiment, and i don’t even recall what the experiment entailed, except that it involved lighting a whole entire box of matches. the big box that you have to buy at an actual store. not a keepsake from the casino where we briskly walked through cigarette smoke to the buffet lines to smuggle bread rolls. i had never seen so many matches in my life. it was quite alarming how quickly the flame traveled from the head and up the wood, so slender. it was exciting to light my first one. to feel something inanimate come to life just by the pressure of my small hands moving something quickly against a surface. what is it that i want to share here anyway? a morsel of my life, of my thought process, something tangible. i would love to make you feel something one day. but the fact of the matter is, it was a rare occasion to be let outside of the house, outside of these very strict parameters for movement. my friend and her parents had been deemed vaguely trustworthy after careful screening by my mother, who was extremely versed in Dateline and 20/20 horror stories of child abuse, sexual assault, racist attacks, secret cults, and a general fear of white people and thinking that white people were more prone to drinking, which could lead to violence. or at least that’s what i think. being so extremely sheltered was a form of care. a fundamental desire to protect. but how is it that no matter how hard you prepare, the horrors always find a way to slip in and become a main attraction? to say nothing radical here. just that i hope to light a few more fires in this lifetime. something that actually catches. i still remember the exact ratio of your eyeball to white, as it moved to the side. and just stood there, slicing time. the first time. i like that. i can hold onto things like this. it generally feels good and productive. like something was truly felt. felt. still wondering what feeling feelings feels like. i know i’ve asked it before. but i still don’t know? to be just a container for my thoughts. how i want you to be. a vase. water me. pot me. back to fire. i think the most remarkable lines about fire will never be written again. “Light of my life. Fire of my loins.” for me i interpret this with sun rays beaming out of my head and my heart, but mostly from my stomach, where i feel most things the most acutely and accurately. i can’t digest bread anymore. and then the fire heart emoji right at the opening of the labia minora. it’s a secret. but those words have already been written, and i honestly wouldn’t want to own something so monumental anyway. if i were to sing you a song about fire, it would go like this _____. i love the sound of wood crackling in a fireplace and it’s not even that cold, so you’re being overheated. it’s not right to indulge like that anymore, or ever. i’m embarrassed that i ever indulged like this. my cheeks are red and they hide the fact that they’re actually flushed because you make me excited and nervous, an unhealthy combination perhaps. but actually, what even makes me nervous anymore? the thought of losing you? fine. i’ll see you in the next life when we can be silverfish. granted, if you learn all your lessons right. anyway, all i did was throw the match into the curtains because i was afraid. the flame was coming too close to my skin. i could feel its heat, feel how it would blister my skin, tear through the flesh, peel back, drip, become chicharrón, i would scream in an agony i had never known the pain of burning and wanted to keep it that way. i can’t handle pain. today was the hottest recorded day on earth. until tomorrow. will you hold me tight at night regardless? the only parts of the body that do not burn are bone fragments.

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Flaunt Magazine, Issue 188, The Eternal Flame Issue, Considerations, Mui-Hai Chu, I Have A Bone To Pick With You