Bonne Fire by Matt Potter

The flames shot higher and hotter and flushed my face amber and orange and red. Holding my breath, I closed my eyes.

“It’s a new beginning, Madeleine,” Rob said, his breath warm on my face. “You can do it.”

Stepping forward, I opened my eyes to watch her glossy face wrinkle and crackle and curl. Magazine covers ripped from their spines, defaced articles and slashed film posters, all collected since 1983 in scrapbooks and albums and shoeboxes, when (we were both sixteen) she stole the part of Judy in BMX Bandits from me and launched her international career.

“Do it, Madeleine.”

I nodded my head. Loosening my fingers, the Nicole doll dropped from my grasp and landed just out of flames’ reach. I bent to pick it up but Rob sprang forward and kicked it into the fire.

Noxious fumes rose as flames licked around the perfect face and the plastic body and blonde hair melted. And the voodoo pins pinged as, folding and imploding, she was reduced to a petro-chemical puddle.

“Repeat after me,” he said. “Nicole Kidman did not steal my career. BMX Bandits was a shit film.”

“Nicole Kidman did not steal my career,” I chanted. “BMX Bandits was a shit film.”

Rob wiped away tears.

“Nicole Kidman did not steal my career. BMX Bandits was a shit film.”

I smiled him a recovery smile.

Back inside, Rob hummed while doing the dishes.

And sneaking on the internet, I ordered a life-size Nicole Kidman doll.


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Filed under Matt Potter

21 responses to “Bonne Fire by Matt Potter

  1. Terrific drilling down into human nature and what drives us when we can’t let go. Nice one, Matt.

  2. Obsessions don’t go away easily, do they? Symbolic actions don’t work by themselves.

  3. The idea of a life-sized Nicole Kidman doll makes me a tad nauseous.

  4. Kim Hutchinson

    Nicely done, Matt! Funny and slightly creepy at the same time!

  5. Darkly funny. Stick pins in her…

  6. Took this in a totally unexpected direction, but I liked it a lot.

  7. “I smiled him a recovery smile.” Fantastic!

  8. Thanks for all your comments – when I saw the theme I thought, missed the bus / missed the boat, and then only later wondered if my story and the take on the theme fitted. The ‘Nicole Kidman stole my career’ point is actually real: a friend of mine did audition for the part of ‘Judy’ in BMX Bandits and Nicole Kidman got the part … and she used to say, quite seriously, “Nicole Kidman stole my career.” The friend is now a successful arts bureaucrat, so I must ask her if she still feels the same way …

  9. Actually, there is a slightly tighter version at Fictionaut.

  10. “I coulda been a contender!” Nice take on the theme. And a life-sized Nicole Kidman doll? That’s just too funny (could probably get one here, life-sized and latex–yeah, Japan can be creepy). Anyway, great fun. I really enjoyed this.

  11. BMX Bandits – never heard of it, must check it out. or is it shit? ;-) but i adore nicole kidman – any doll with her face will be sure of my attention.

  12. I like the weaving of the celebrity story and personal blown-up “myth” combined into this tale. And the ending is just, well, perfect. It would match my blow-up Brad Pitt doll just perfectly. (LOL) Nice creep factor, Matt. Who knew.

    • Yeah, have done that a bit lately, reality mixed with fiction … or vice versa. Am unsure if that is not my life, actually, fantasy and reality, a surreal mix. Well, I love obsession in fiction … thanks for reading.

  13. grey johnson

    I commented over at fictionaut, but would like to add that I missed the “recovery smile”, and plan to use it myself some fine day. The smile, I mean, not the phrase. Fine read.

    • Thank you Grey, for both comments and your attention. I do like ‘I smiled him a recovery smile’. It is sweet but dark and filled with deception, giving someone what he wants BUT also not surrendering, playing both sides, maybe saving a relationship but also condemning it. Thank you for noticing: I do love simple lines with huge meanings.

  14. Well played in a surreal and creepy way. Just back from New Orleans and spent some time perusing the goods in a voodoo shop, but no Nicole Kidman doll. I also loved the ‘smiled him a recovery smile.’ So much told in that phrase. Peace…

  15. Pingback: Week #31 – Missed the bus | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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