That morning they were sitting in the snow. Maggie was the oldest one: she was already eighteen, and she was dipping her naked fingers into the white ocean fallen from the sky during the night. She could feel thousand of needles tickling her hands, but she didn’t care: cold wind running through her almond-color hair, her eyes staring at the two people standing around there. On the right side, Matt: he was wearing a wrinkled, discolored t-shirt. She could see waves of gooseflesh moving on his pale skin, his crystal sight looking at the sky: he was lost in his own thoughts again. She turned to Jason, he looked back at her.
“Aren’t you cold?”
He rubbed his eyelids with the left hand. Curly, blonde hair frame his eyes: it’s not possible to distingue the pupil from the iris. They simply looked like two endless wells.
“You’re way too thin. You should eat more”
“Who do you think you are? My dad?”
“Uoh, calm down you two! – Matt said – We should find something to do, boredom is making us nervous”
“Ok, – Jason put his hands in the pockets of his dirty jeans – what about going to Max’s Cafè?”
“No, they caught me last week while I was stealing a freaking donut” Matt said.
“…a donut?” her ironic tone pissed him off.
“I was hungry, ok? Sorry if I’m not anorexic as you are Meg”
She stopped playing with the snow, shaking her head. Then she broke the silence.
“Let’s go to the church up the hill”
“That’s boring” Matt said.
“…not if we set it on fire” Jason replied.
“What you mean?” she asked, confused.
“My father has at least eight gasoline tanks in the garage. That jerk is always drunk, he won’t ever notice if one or two disappear”
“Are you serious man? – Matt scratched his hairless head – That sounds risky”
“That church is abandoned and falling apart from years: nobody cares, even in this religious, shitty town”
“Ok, let’s go” she said.
Matt helped her to stand up, then he kissed her cheekbone with his rough lips: sandpaper scratching soft skin. She accepted that apologetic gesture following Jason toward his house.
* * *
The top of the hill was deserted, only the decayed church was there: dead ivies were climbing up its scraped walls. Maggie looked around, enchanted: that place seemed surreal and magical to her. On the other hand, Jason was looking at her expression, finding it particularly sweet and innocent in that moment. They passed the three steps in front of the entrance and they opened the small main door: a loud squeak broke the silence. The inside was well-conserved, even though it was completely empty: there were just a few benches, the main altar all the way down the room and a big crucifix hanged on the right side.
“Hey Jesus!” Matt said, waving at the crucifix. Maggie laughed softly.
“C’mon, don’t act like an idiot” Jason said, passing Matt a half empty bottle of whiskey. He wanted his voice to sound serious and resolute, but it was actually full of excitement. His only thought was that place burning from top to bottom, he could not focus on anything else.
Matt passed to Maggie the first tank and she opened it: a strong smell pierced their noses violently. Then they started to spill gasoline all around the place, laughing and drinking the alcohol like it was holy water.
Once they finished their work, they gathered close to the altar: they had already decided to go out from the small back door, so that they could see the show from a better position.
Jason took out from his left pocket a red matchbox.
“Can I strike the match, J?” Matt said.
Jason lifted up his shoulders, pretending not to care. Maggie gave Matt an envious sight.
It took Matt just a few seconds, then the place was on fire. At first little, wavy flames run across the room following the gasoline traces: warm colors filled up the emptiness of that place dancing on the dusty floor. The pure air became every second more dimmed and impregnated of grey smoke: everything was magically blurry and confused. They were so thrilled that they could not speak nor move. But after a few minutes they started to cough, their eyes to tear, their heads to spin.
“Let’s go out” Maggie said, walking toward the back door.
Jason didn’t move, he could not stop looking at the fire, excited like a teenager who’s loosing his virginity.
“J, we gotta go! Move your ass!” Matt said.
Maggie reached the door and pushed it. It didn’t open.
“Matt! The door is locked!” her voice was full of fear.
“What?” Matt said.
A rafter fell down a few feet far from them, crashing against the floor.
“THE DOOR IS LOCKED!” she screamed.
Matt run to the door, he pushed Maggie away and he tried to open it with all his strength. Nothing happened.
“No, no, no! – he said desperately – J! J, the door is locked! J!”
Matt could hardly see him through the smoke, standing motionless.
“Maggie, run to the main door! Now!”
Matt heard her cry and her steps, he reached Jason and grasped his arm, dragging him away.
Everything was grey, the air was too dense even to breath: the last thing he could see was Jesus staring at him with his severe, empty eyes.
Matt just kept on walking, tripping up into rubbles, hearing cracks and bumps all around him. Then the air became lighter, a little light pierced through his sight. He reached the outside, falling off the steps in front of the main door.
He didn’t move for a few minutes: his hand was still grasping Jason’s arm violently, his sweaty body was lying on the icy-white snow. He felt Jason panting and trying to stand up.
“…Matt? Are you ok?”
Matt opened his eyes: they were hurting as hell.
“No, I’m not ok!” he grunted, staying on his knees and touching his left shoulder. It was covered by blood, but all the rest of his body seemed to be intact.
“That fucking door was locked, and you didn’t even move!”
“I couldn’t move!”
“I don’t know! I’m sorry, ok? I’m sorry!”
Silence. Jason’s voice was trembling.
“Fine” Matt said.
They looked at each other: they were completely covered by ash. They burst into laughter, relieving the tension.
“…Wait – Jason stood up, his expression turned serious – Where’s Maggie?”
All around them there were only trees, snow and the sound of the fire, still burning.