The following prompt was posted by two of my friends in my local writing group:
I haven’t done much writing based on other’s prompts, so this should be an interesting experiment.
My Little Flamey
Emma Martin is seven years old. Emma and her mother are walking through the mall and they have one particular shop in mind. Past the food court and the Cinnabon, they arrive at Petwick’s Candle Shop. The shop has only been in this mall for a year, but it’s become a hotspot with children and adults alike as Petwick’s is the exclusive retailer for My Little Flamey candles.
My Little Flamey began running ads on YouTube videos targeted toward children about two years ago. They are scented candles with names like, “Halloween Bonfire,” “Holiday Fireplace,” “Oven-Baked,” and “Fireworks.”
Emma has come seeking “Halloween Bonfire.” It’s an orange candle that smells of spiced cider, Autumn leaves, and apple wood. Like all My Little Flamey candles, it’s already lit. The manufacturer’s method for transporting all the live flame remains a closely guarded secret. The live flame is also a shrewd business move, as customers must continually buy replacement candles in order to keep the original flame burning. Many are the children who have thrown tantrums when their pet fires have died when their parents neglected or refused to buy replacement candles to keep them fed. Emma’s mother, Molly, buys one live candle and 10 replacements, enough to keep the flame burning for about 4 weeks.
The shop clerk slides a glass sleeve over the live candle. The sleeve is about half again as long as the candle and has a perforated metal cover. He places all of that into a metal pail filled with sand.
“For safer transport,” he says.
“Ummm, thank you,” Molly says.
Emma shouts, “Thank you!”
Once they return to their car, Molly gets Emma seated and buckled into the back seat, before settling the pail with the candle on the passenger seat.
“I guess that should do it,” she says.
“Let’s go, Mommy!” Emma says.
“Just a moment, honey. Mommy needed to get your new Flamey situated.”
“Her name is Bonny.”
“Bonnie Fire, eh?,” Molly asks.
“No, just Bonnie.”
Molly sighs and begins to back out of the parking space. A horn honks and she hits the brakes. The pail shudders a bit, but settles in a few seconds.
“That was a close one,” she says.
Molly finishes backing out and navigates through the maze that is the mall parking lot, exiting onto the road. The drive home is uneventful.
Molly gets Emma unbuckled and out of the car before unloading the candle pail. Emma skips her way to the front door and waits for her mother to catch up.
“Come on, Mommy!” she says. “I want to put Bonnie in my room.”
“Coming honey,” Molly replies. She sets the pail down on the front step and punches her code into the door lock. “Open the door for Mommy, please.”
Emma turns the knob and pushes the door open. Molly follows close behind. She places the pail on the bench near the front door, then turns around and closes the door behind her. Emma scampers upstairs, with Molly following shortly after. She lets the little girl lead her to the bedroom.
“Where would you like it, honey?” Molly asks.
“Hmmm,” Emma says, looking around her room for a moment and points to her dresser. It’s decorated with a few stuffed animals, a piggy bank shaped like a unicorn, and a music box topped by a ballerina poised in a pirouette.
“Put her next to Misty,” she says, indicating the ballerina.
Molly sets the pail on the floor and removes the candle from it. She places the candle on the dresser, and slides the glass sleeve off it.
“Right here?” Molly asks.
“Yes. Thank you, Mommy!”
“You’re welcome, honey. Be downstairs for dinner in an hour,” Molly says.
Molly leaves and heads downstairs. Emma gazes at the candle for a moment.
“How do you like your new home, Bonnie?” Emma asks.
The candle just burns silently, scenting the air with apples, spice, and woodsmoke.
“The ballerina’s name is Misty. That’s Moonbeam,” she says, pointing at the unicorn piggy bank. “And, that’s Peaches, Strawberry, and Mr. Pancake,” she says, indicating three stuffed animals in the form of a dog, a cat, and a bear.
“I need to do some homework before dinner. You just get settled in,” Emma says She moves over to her desk and sits down. Time passes.
“Emma! It’s time for dinner!” Molly calls from downstairs.
“I’ll be right down, Mommy,” Emma shouts back.
She gets up from the desk and takes a few steps over to the dresser.
“Are we all getting along?” she asks. “I need to go down to dinner, but I’ll be back soon. You can listen to some music while I’m gone.”
Emma picks up the music box and cranks the key until its fully wound, then places it back on the dresser next to the candle before turning and leaving the room. The music box slowly begins playing “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” and the ballerina starts to turn her pirouette. As she turns, her leg bumps the candle, which wobbles for a second before tipping over onto the dresser, it’s flame licking Mr. Pancakes’ left foot. It smolders for a moment, then catches alight. In a few minutes, the bear is burning and the flames spread, first to Strawberry, then to Peaches. The burning toys turn black and ghastly.
Downstairs, Molly sniffs the air. “What’s that smell?” she asks. “Is that smoke?” She grabs the fire extinguisher from the cabinet under the sink and runs from the kitchen. She keeps sniffing, trying to determine where the smell is coming from.
“Shit!” she yells and runs up the stairs to Emma’s room. Emma’s on her heels, screaming and crying. Molly sees the smoke coming from Emma’s room and dashes inside. The flames have made Emma’s toys unrecognizable and they’re now spreading to the dresser itself. Molly points the fire extinguisher and squeezes the handles, sending the foam spraying toward the dresser. It takes a minute, but she manages to put out the spreading fire. Emma is wailing.
“Bonnie, no!” She runs and picks up the remains of the candle. It’s a scorched misshapen orange glob now. “You killed Bonnie!”
“Yeah, well. Bonnie just tried to burn our house down. No more pet fires! You’re getting a fish next time.”