The cigarette wound down to its fag end, wasting away into showers of ash in the wind. The man smoking it smoldered with it like he was fading too. The day was beautiful, he noticed absently. His back against the withered tree on the hillock, he sat at right angles except for his head which lolled to the side as if his spine had lost the will to work.
It had. Poker faced, he thought that it didn’t show on the outside. The poker face was the give away.
The breeze caressed his cheek briefly. As the pity of the air fell away, the ache returned slowly to his chest and the fire that had been there moments before now had an unbearable sweltering heat. The grass around him flinched away in a frightened radius, and slowly darkened and seethed with it.
All the sweet ambrosia of Olympus couldn’t douse the flames. They only numbed the pain for a few precious moments. The back seat empty temporarily, the unwelcome passenger was inevitably there when the real world returned.
The breeze picked up again. The cigarette relegated to oblivion, his fingers burned slowly like sticks of incense. The embers fanned by the wind, his limbs faded into ashes and dust and faded away with its ephemeral lines.
Minutes later, he was gone entirely, just like his cigarette. The breeze died suddenly, and it was as though that part of the world had just breathed a giant sigh of relief.
On some days, when the sun is cold despite clear skies, you can hear the wind keening sadly at the hillock, and if you listen very closely, you can still hear the hiss and crackle of those flames. Of the man, nothing remains. Only the wind, looking for a place where it can be still.