So this is my first piece for FP. I wrote this for my AP Language and Composition class. We had to begin the story with, "I put tulips under all the pillows and then I set fire to the house," have a middle transition of, "On the following Friday, we packed our bags and planned our escape," and end the story with, "the time Leslie called me a leech." It wasn't supposed to be this long, but I think it turned out all right.

I put tulips under all the pillows and then I set fire to the house. Before me, the flames rocked and contorted in a violent, rapid dance, dressed in vibrant crimsons and citrus-sharp yellows and oranges. Silhouettes cast upon the window were performing the salsa, shapeless hips and length-less arms jerking along to the crackles and pops that were the percussion, their motions as blazing as the fire devouring the house mere feet from my body.

I faced the arson with blank thoughts and an expression that was equally as vacant.

I could hear the distinct crinkling of plastic before I could see the stark white of the cigarette from the corner of my eye. My head slanted to take the sight of him in before my mind gave the order. He held the cigarette to his lips, leaning closer to the flames that had consumed the windows of the first floor.

First inhale, the tip burned, receding to a black, scar-like line. Second puff, embers erupted from the charcoal ashes below the scar. Third intake, the scarlet was lost amid the blaze of the house, smoke spiraling in the air.

Then we were beside one another, engulfed in the glow of our masterpiece.

"This reminds me of 'Fight Club'," I whispered, a hush beneath the screams of the house as it disintegrated.

His chuckle was the kind that one could make out an accent from. It was as bass as his voice, throaty as his tone, dark as the clothing color we shared. It was the waves ebbing from the collision of smooth water and sturdy rock.

He pulled me to him, encasing me in a warmth that was more intense than the one radiating ahead of us, to a heat that out-burned any fire on any day.

I felt like a puppet as my arms seemed to move on their own accord, settling over broad shoulders in a routine that I had practiced for years, a routine I found myself beginning to feel ashamed of.

Lips touched my temple, but there was no comfort in them.

A second is one-sixtieth of a minute. A moment is actually a length of time that is at least thirty seconds long. This second of attempted easing towards me felt more like several moments of extreme ache and distress.

The urge to drive my fist into any part of him that would cause him pain nearly overrode my senses. I tore away from his burning embrace, fumbling a few steps backwards before I forced my body to steady itself out.

I could feel his desire to ask me why I moved so suddenly, yet he remained silent, observing me with slate-grey eyes in his predatorily analytical way. I leveled my back, stiffening my shoulders in a pitiable endeavor at intimidation. Mouth set in an even line, I fixed my swamp-green gaze on his face.

His mouth parted to speak, but no words came out, only the upward quirk of the corner of his lips into a smirk that had once made my chest ache with something akin to love. Or obsession. Or was it hate? Something along those lines.

A breeze whistled by us, fingers weaving between clumps of dyed hair and scattering them relentlessly like a reckless child. Neither of us made a move to sweep the tickling strands from our faces, too lodged in this staring competition, the victor's prize unknown.

Tension was a needle threading strings of adrenaline from one body to the other, each new piercing tightening the line prior to it. Gravity was caving down on my shoulders, chains strapping over my limbs and coiling like snakes. Pressure, thick and scorching, began replacing the oxygen in my lungs. I wouldn't be able to stand much longer with this intensity beating and weighing my body down.

Yet he stood there, unaffected, exuding confidence and arrogance and pride while I compelled my body in a concentrated struggle to avoid the inevitable collapse looming above me like a cloud of smoke.

The gentle thumping of my heartbeat mutated into a thunderous pattern of growls in my ears, the sound of vast amounts of water being poured on my head at a consistent, intense force. I was breathing air in through a wire. His form was morphing from solid lines into a radiance of blurs.

I could hear sirens, unsure if they were sounds produced by my own mind or if they were real. Fingers interlaced with mine. He was in front of me. Then he was hauling me behind him in a stumbling run away from the scene of the crime, laughing the whole way.

On the following Friday, we packed our bags and planned our escape. I was freshly showered, clad in new clothes from a thrift store at the outskirts of the city. He was munching quietly at some sort of poultry in the form of Chinese food.

I felt blank again.

He was counting crumpled bills that had once been scattered on the faux-wooden table in the center of the room. I could see a few separate piles, neatly counted into sets of one hundred. I didn't know where he found this money. Honestly, I didn't really want to know anything other than why he hadn't paid back the debt he'd accumulated over the years to me.

He spent three dollars for my jeans. Four dollars for my green hoodie. Six dollars for my grey shoes. Fourteen dollars for our food. Fifty dollars for the night in his friend's apartment.

"Leslie?" I asked.

His name now felt foreign and awkward on my tongue. My mouth felt sullied as I uttered those two syllables. What had once been his affectionate nickname from me was nothing more than an insult to my own intelligence.

He looked up at me for only a brief collection of moments, just long enough to see how I looked in thrift store clothes. His illegal money was the center of his attention. I was barely a blip on his radar.

"Hm?" he replied, focused on his counting.

Standing halfway across the room, wearing clothing that belonged to strangers, and having just run away from committing a federal crime had brought me close enough to the edge, and being responded to with a single word was the last straw.

And then it hit me.

It was the type of feeling that manifests in ones mind, a ghost of a presence that remains unseen and mostly figureless. It develops into a semi-solid growth that weighs heavily down on one's shoulders, much heavier than it should be for something its size. The weight passes through one's chest, pangs of smaller yet equally as solid feelings begin to form until they are dragged along, spreading out across the area around the heart.

You finally feel it stirring in the absolute pit of your stomach, the shameful dread that begins to claw at you from the inside. That feeling of total and complete worthlessness that makes no sense as to why it appeared, simply because it's there to join in with the other emotions that get a kick from drowning you in self-doubt and proof of weakness.

It was the birth of the monstrous creature known as betrayal.

In three strides I was situated, quivering, at Leslie's side.

"I don't care who you think you are, but I'm done with this," I nearly bellowed at him. "You've been nothing more than a parasite feeding off of me and corrupting me along the way to my demise."

I paused, expecting some sort of anger or comeback, but he continued to lay his precious bills out on the table. My existence was officially extinct in the world of Leslie.

"We just burned down a house," I pressured. "Two people are dead because of us. I don't think you understand that."

One twenty. Two tens. Another twenty. Five ones. A gamble. That was what this was all about. A gamble.

"I'm leaving. I'm going to pretend that the day we bumped into each other, I had just kept on walking."

I rotated, my back the only ear for his words at this point. Not even two steps away and the screech of fuming chair legs attacked me, halting me. I expected the furious pound of a fist to the back of my head. Maybe the pain of fingers around my neck, leaving me gasping for air I would not receive until I pleaded for forgiveness?

But not words.

"I always knew you were a leech, from the moment I met you I could feel it. You would suck everything out of me and leave me once you couldn't take even a single drop more."

It was chased into hiding by the sudden overwhelming pressure of uneasiness in my stomach. My gut was twisted violently into nearly painful knots of nausea. His words were like a broken record, repeating over and over in my head. With each new repetition, the naturally easy process of breathing steadily became more and more difficult.

There was no misunderstanding his words in this situation. I found myself trying to bury the fury that was building inside of me. I was the mature one here. Despite the fact that I had just committed a federal crime, of course, but Damnit, I was the more mature one!

My emotions finally took control of my mind and my actions. The blistering feeling that erupted on my knuckles didn't make any sense until Leslie's pale face grew bright red, his lip jaggedly split and dripping burgundy blood. The look of hurt and disbelief that consumed his face was well worth the pain that was throbbing in my hand.

I left him standing there, clutching the table for support he never thought he'd need. The wind drifted through my hair, loving and gentle this time. A whisper of a heartbeat thumped around me, giving me support.

I had made some pretty bad decisions in my life, most of them spurring from my platonic to romantic relationship with him. But you know for damn sure that if any man calls me anything inappropriate, I'll perform a reenactment of the time Leslie called me a leech.

Please leave a review or some constructive criticism for me. It will be much appreciated, I promise.