don't burn too bright
Eva da Costa had always prided herself on a few things: one, that she finally knew what her self-worth was, and two that she was finally comfortable in her own skin. It had been a long time since she hadnít felt confident or secure, but lately she found herself having doubts. It started with the little things, but she would be able to brush that off. She always did. She ignored and denied, until it went away and disappeared completely. It usually always did.

It was a rainy night, the weather still not something she was completely use to, and she drifted to a thought of her friends in a much warmer climate on vacation together, and her at home in the rain-filled city. Not that she didn't mind being alone. Oh no, she was Eva da Costa! She was a supermodel, a business woman, an independent woman, she could take care of herself and she could take down anyone who tried to think otherwise. Right? Still on this particular night, she wrapped her coat around her a little tighter, her stiletto booties clicking on the pavement a little faster, her heart beating a little louder. Something didn't seem right. Something was wrong.

She soon found herself in a place that she didn't recognize, and realized she couldn't remember when she started walking home from the office, or why she had even chosen to do so when she usually took a car home. Why would she try to walk home in the rain? Her hair would get wet, her shoes would get ruined, and who wanted to get stuck in the cold, wet rain on a dark and foggy night? Apparently, she did. Still, she kept moving forward, the sound of her heels clicking on the pavement the only sound other than the sound of rain falling hard on objects around her. For a busy city, it was awfully quiet. It was...lonely. It was disorienting.

It didn't seem real.

She turned down a corner, and found herself walking down an alley, a golden glow coming from the end of the alley. She walked towards it, starting to feel the warmth of the glow and she soon came upon three people standing around a fire in front of a building. She recognized the building as the modeling agency she ran with Tess -- didn't she just leave from here? Why was she walking in circles, and why were there people standing around a large bonfire in front of the building?

It's about time you showed up, one of the people said, a distinct female voice and Eva walked closer and all three of the individuals turned around. Steven. Jon. Tess. Tess had been the one to speak, and she grinned towards Eva, We can get started now.

"Get started? What are you doing, aren't you and Jon supposed to be on some vacation?"

She doesn't get it does she? Jon said to Tess, or rather Eva thought she heard his voice, but his lips didn't move. Come to think of it, Tess' lips didn't move either. Eva stepped closer to them, and as she did so, she realized that all three of them had burn marks through their bodies, and their lips were all burned off. Eva covered her mouth in horror, and she heard all three of them laughing, as they reached for her.

You did this to us. You always want to burn so bright, control every situation, and now look what you did! came Tess' voice.

You've destroyed everything, Eva. Look what you did to us, came Jon's voice.

Steven never said anything, he only laughed.

As they reached for her, they all grabbed her, and as she screamed, they started to pull her towards the bonfire. Their voices were all blending into one, telling her You'll always be alone. You'll always be second best. You'll always be left out. You'll always burn too bright and die out quickly. You destroy everything you touch.

Eva struggled, she screamed, but their grip on her arms tightened, and they almost seemed to burn into her, their skin melting off as they pulled her closer to the flames. "Stop! Let me go!" She screamed, terrified, and soon found herself somehow tied to a large piece of wood, her arms and legs bound by rope, and she was standing in the middle of the fire pit, though the fire did not touch her yet.

She remembered when she was little, her father teaching her how to cook over an open flame on the beach back in Brazil, and she was so scared of the flame. He had told her to not be scared, that while the fire could destroy, it could also create new things. But little Eva, all she ever saw in the fire was death and destruction. She saw pain.

As Eva looked around, struggled against the ropes, she watched in horror as her friends walked into the flames, screaming in agony as the burned to death, Eva watching helplessly as the flames caught onto her feet and the flames started to dance up her body, burning her as it moved up, causing more and more pain, and she screamed as the fire took over her body. She screamed in agony as she was burned alive, and soon was left to nothing but dust.


Eva woke up with a shot, covered in sweat and her hair wet against her face, kicking the sheets off the bed and then jumping off her bed immediately. She ran into the bathroom, seeing that her skin was flushed and warm to the touch, and she turned on the shower, anything cold enough to cool her down, anything to keep her heart from racing. She could still feel her friends pulling at her, she could feel their skin burning into hers, she could still feel the fire as if it was still on her now.

A cold shower later, she went back into the bedroom, and checked her phone: March 25, 1:00 AM. Wait, that couldn't be right. Did she somehow miss a whole day? Did she dream all of that? Or was it something that really happened?

And as she looked around the dark bedroom, the moon coming through the windows, she wrapped her arms around herself tight, despite still feeling as though she was on fire.

She was burning up, she was burning out, and she was alone. She was just thankful that she wouldn't be near an open flame any time soon.