Swept by his excitement, Mrs. Komarov gets to her feet and hurries out the door to join the others, leaving me behind. On her way out she says, over her shoulder, “You, stay put. I need you to come up with a solution. Work on it like your life depends on it.”
I do. First—as soon as she turns her back to me—a quick change of clothes. I take off Linda’s shoes because by now my feet are killing me and remove the black skirt because it’s a bit tight. I look good in my spandex leggings, if I say so myself.
Then I smooth down the side of the skirt, sliding my hand into the pocket and grabbing the matchbook. Nearly all of its matches are gone. Only a single one is left. I’ll have to make it count.
With trembling fingers, I tear it out of the matchbook and strike it against the rough narrow strip. It doesn’t ignite. I strike again, approach the wastebasket, which is set in the corner behind the toilet, and throw it there, burning.
The flame is flimsy, at first.
For a while, I believe it has been extinguished. The match has sunk out of sight and disappeared under the dirty tissues. Then, a subtle glow appears. A little tongue of fire starts licking, touching a corner of a tissue here, an edge there, slithering across the mess, consuming it hungrily.
Once the fire starts blazing through the wastebasket itself, I carry the flaming thing, set it under the desk, heap in handfuls of the oldest billing complaints, and hurry out the door. I close it shut behind me and, with a little cheer, join the others in their impromptu celebration.
Soon, all of us will feel the heat.
(Volume IV of Ash Suspense Thrillers with a Dash of Romance)
The complexity of the plot, the deceptions Ash must deal with are all wonderfully written and the author’s mastery of keeping it easy to follow is not lost on this reader. There is always another twist or turn you never see coming.
~Colleen Mooney, Author and Audible listener