1 of 11 stories from Worlds We Deserve
The White Lighter
“You know those are bad luck right?”
Lucas kept tossing the lighter in the air and catching it; a minute passed before he spoke. “So they say.” He continued his game.
He frustrated me. “Why’d you buy it then?”
“I like to live life on the edge.”
“Why joke about something so serious?”
Lucas cackled dryly. “Oh, serious is it? Every single Bic is white underneath the shell anyways.”
I sat up then waved away the smoke between us. “Kurt Cobain. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, even Amy Winehouse. Know what they all had in common?”
“Insane amounts of musical talent?”
I sighed. “Besides that.”
“They were all left-handed.”
“Probably, I don’t know look it up.”
I kicked his shin. “Fuck off.”
“Debilitating drug problems.” I didn’t laugh and Lucas sighed. “A white lighter was found in each of their pockets after they died, real spooky shit.”
“Don’t forget they were all twenty-seven too.”
“And we’re in high-school Eric, not to mention that’s just a coincidence. They surround us all the time, I’ll even avoid the cliché of correlating shark attacks to the purchase of ice cream; do all soldiers die with dog tags on?”
“Nunna’ that.- your logic dictates that it must be the dog tags that kill them. Two of those metal ovals are found on every one of their persons after death, and it couldn’t possibly be a coincidence.”
I scoffed. “That isn’t the same at all, my point started in a discussion of a freaky, recurring documented circumstance that you switched to a discussion of standard equipment; white lighters are bad luck, simple as that.” I concluded and picked the joint from between my friend’s fingers.
“Or, and here’s a crazy theory, white lighters have their reputation because back when the choice was only between white and black, the lighter of the two betrayed the fact that people were potheads; if they used a bong or bowl they’d use the bottom-end of the plastic to move around the rez for the last couple of hits, you know how exactly what I’m talking about.” I had to nod. “If a cop ever saw a dirty white lighter he could consider it probable cause, and so started the rumor. But back to the topic of luck, or, to more accurately describe it, the set of rules our species long -ago deemed irrelevant.It can’t be, isn’t anything more than a description of the way things happen to happen. The world we live in didn’t give us wings, we shouldn’t be able to fly, yet there’s nothing stopping us from buying plane tickets. The smashing of the sound barrier, an invisible force that definitely does exist, is so inconsequential to our history that I don’t even know the name of the first person to do it. The only rules worth following nowadays are man-made: red means stop and the workday ends at five. Superstitions based on questionable evidence and gut feelings just don’t make the cut anymore.” Again the lighter soared.
I jumped from my seat and snagged it before Lucas had the chance, ran to the window flung it open then threw the spark out as hard as I could.
Lucas came to my side and looked out. “Now why would you go and do something like…” His words stopped when he saw what’d petrified me; his mother, just arrived, rubbing furiously at a lump that’d just sprouted atop her head. “My alarm didn’t go off?”
“You probably didn’t set it.” I smashed the little that remained of the joint into a nearby empty pop-can.
“Operation clean smell goes off at five every day without fail.” He looked at his phone. “She’s fifteen minutes early.”
She noticed our heads poking from the window. “Lucas is that you, did you see what hit me- why is all that smoke coming from your room OH MY GOD IS THE HOUSE ON FIRE GET OUT RIGHT NO-“ She stopped screaming to sniff; we ducked back inside but still heard her steps pound up the driveway.
“Told you it was bad luck.” Was all I gave myself time to say before running down the stairs and out the back door.
After school the next day I met Lucas at our usual rendezvous with an apologetic smile on my face. “Didn’t think you’d still be able to walk.”
“I grew outta’ corporal punishment a long time ago, there was just a ton of yelling a lot of tears and a not so subtle hint that she’ll be coming home early waaay more often.”
I laughed. “If my parents found out I smoked I wouldn’t live to tell you about it.”
“She’s normally like that too, and the way she flew into the house made me think I was in real trouble, but as soon as she saw me she was incongruently calm. I’m thinking the lighter jarred something loose in her head; nice throw.”
We’d started walking; I sighed and folded my hands behind my head. “If there’s any consolation to take from the situation, it’s that it was a fitting end for us and that damn curse. Good riddance.”
“Instead of that you should say hi again.” Lucas said then produced the same white lighter.
I yelled and smacked my friend’s hand; the lighter hit the ground hard and exploded with a pop. I wasted no time, kicked the plastic carcass into the closest sewer drain. “That takes care of that.”
“The only thing that takes care of is the last two dollars I owed you; I’ll be right back.” He went into the nearest convenience store and returned clutching a blood red Bic between his fingers. “Better?”
Lucas began to pick at the colored casing. “Now, as I was saying- aw dammit.” His attempts to dig under the wrap had loosed the lighter from his grip into a bounce that ended in the street. He went to go pick it up. “Okay, so” Was all that came out of his mouth before an eighteen-wheeler going well over the speed limit took him from the space and world.
Where my friend had stood laid a red lighter, half-peeled, showing mausoleum white plastic underneath.