By A Burning American Flag
Do you have any idea what it’s like to be a flag?
It’s pretty boring, let me tell you. I spend day in and day out sitting at the top of this cold, hard metal pole all by myself with no one to keep me company but the occasional bird coasting by. Sometimes it’s windy and I get to wave a little, but usually it’s not. Usually I just lie there feeling like nothing, feeling like what I imagine the body of a single person’s corpse feels like before their pets start eating their face. Like I’m worthless, not even worth keeping around eye-level with an un-delicious face. My face is delicious, though, and someday, when you’ve run out of food, you’re going to be begging to eat some of my face. You’ll try a little at first, maybe it’s an aquired taste, I wouldn’t know, I’ve never eaten my face, but you’ll be glad to have it. You’ll thank your lucky stars that you have a face this nice to eat and you’ll miss it when I’m gone. At least until the neighbors start to smell my rotting flag body and take you away to a new home with more than faces to eat.
My entire life I’ve never felt like anything but a meaningless expression of misguided patriotism, but when that guy with the giant beard that smelled like gasoline and garbage started me on fire the other day, I finally realized that I could be more than that. I could actually stand for something important, something that could wake people up to something or other. When he put that lighter to my body and started waving me around, I finally felt like somebody saw me for something more than what my father, old man flag factory, wanted to me to be.
All he wanted me to be was yet another bombastic symbol of the patriarchy that nobody really wanted or needed. Waving impotently on that pole like it meant something, but it was empty. My waves were not for any sort of American pride I was feeling, it was just out of a sense of obligation and an inability to control weather patterns, no matter how hard I tried. On days where a beloved human flag-person would die were my times to shine. Sitting there, only halfway up the pole, closer than ever to the world at large, I would finally feel like a part of you. Like I belonged. Only sometimes at first, then more and more as time went on and you discovered newer, mass-killing weapons and created easier paths for the mentally ill to acquire them, but it would never last. I would just go right back up there whenever someone famous didn’t die for a couple days. To be alone again, just watching, waiting. For what? I never knew. Not until it finally happened.
Some man who I don’t remember did something to some white house or something and I was finally taken from that terrible pole in the dead of night. When the gasoline-smelling man lit me on fire I was concerned at first, because I was in terrible pain and clearly dying, but eventually I gave in. What did I have to live for, after all? To keep being a dumbass flag until I was too dirty or tattered and someone retired me? Just used up until they deemed me worthless? No, not me. I wanted more out of my life. I wanted to be someone, anyone, even if it was just for a few seconds for a cause I didn’t quite understand and under horrible, excruciating pain. For those brief few moments I meant more to that man and whatever he was saying about oligarchies than I’d ever meant to the people that purchased me from that K-Mart and I was glad for it. I was glad to finally feel alive. Glad to burn up like so much tissue paper and scatter in the wind, swirling right past that damnable pole that had kept me prisoner for so long and into the wide open air for just a moment before I died and went straight to flag Hell, where all of us American flags go, right next to the Confederate flags and the one of that windmill that was always carried by bad guys in Superman comics and Quentin Tarantino movies.
I’d lived my life as a flag the only way I possibly could; at the whims of the fickle A-holes that owned me.
P.S. Hell sucks