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Matches

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David picks up a lot of those cheap little matchbooks at restaurants, the ones made out of cardboard with flimsy strips and tiny heads. He also picks up those sturdy matchboxes when he sees them in hardware stores and places like that, and once, Astrid buys him a long, decorative tube of fragrant fireplace matches that burn for what feel like forever.

He keeps his matchbooks and matchboxes and match tubes and any stray matches he finds in a drawer in his bedside table. Late at night, Luke teaches him how to keep the matches burning the longest, how to swallow them on fire, and the best ways to light them. He lets David light them and then takes them from his hands, making the flames dance higher and brighter and burn in different colors and patterns. Sometimes he cups the flame in his bare hands, sometimes he puts it in his mouth and presses it to David’s, and sometimes he spills it over David’s body, warming him and petting him and making him squirm in the most perfect ways.

Once David accidentally sets his sheets on fire, but luckily Luke thinks fast enough to keep the flame contained to one square foot region. Astrid is still pretty irritated when she finds the blackened hole, however, no matter how much David tries to convince her it could have been much, much worse.

She doesn’t make him get rid of the matches, though. In fact, the next time she’s at the supermarket, she picks him up a new box.