Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan's work has appeared in NPR’s Selected Shorts, Tin House’s Literary B-SIDES, and TriQuarterly. Her childhood was split between the Highlands and London. She's fond of salty porridge, cranachan, but still can't bring herself to drink Irn-Bru.
They say we were pyromaniacs. That is shite. The lunk who set fire to Millie’s hair in Double-Maths was a pyro.
The trophy shop was on a backstreet. They had cups, plaques, golfers, horses, even a cross-eyed samurai—though there weren’t any samurai in our back arse of the highlands. For twenty-five pounds, you could award yourself anything.
Outside, the sign read Troph Sho. Inside, the only decoration was a cracked cd-radio-stereo. How did the place stay in business? Prize Giving was only once a year and half the prizes were certificates Mr. Fraser made in Microsoft Word.
We broke in the week before Prize Giving. We only meant to drink some Stellas, pass a joint, and have a laugh over the sad little medals. Get to see them up close for once. We didn’t have top grades, runner’s legs, or leadership potential. Nobody ever gave us a flimsy fucking book token. Millie reminded us that Olivia’s mum bought a Good Personality trophy for the sister with something wrong in the head. Olivia punched Millie in the arm. We weren’t supposed to talk about the little sister.
Rodney stuck the samurai down his tracksuit and farted. The guy came out looking cross-eyed as ever. Millie shoved an Oscar statuette all the way down her throat. But we’d all seen her do throat tricks before. When no one was looking, Keith slipped the smallest silver cup into the pocket of his army jacket. It was cool and smooth. He could feel letters with the pad of his thumb. Rodney had nicked a bottle of vodka off his stepdad, and Millie had some pills from her older brother. We’d all done those pills before, and they weren’t that great. When we took them, we’d say things we meant. Our lives were spent avoiding that. We all turned her down, except for Keith who was beginning to feel silvery inside. He could feel the shine coming up from the trophy into the fist that clutched it. A car passed on the street and we all held our breath but the headlights only bounced off the gleaming awards. There were far more plaques in that room than victories in our town.
Rodney splashed Millie with the vodka. She fake sulked, but we knew they were fucking. She grabbed at the bottle, he jumped, and the bottle fell. The lino floor glittered with glass and booze.
We aren’t sure who lit the match. Maybe it was Keith, though that’s not how he saw it. All he saw was silver light coming out through his five fingertips: five spotlights, one for each of us.
Plastic burns beautiful. The flames were purple, green, and gold. Fire was louder than we ever imagined it: fizzy, popping, clapping sounds. We sizzled, especially Rodney.
They found two inches away from Keith’s scorched hand a silver cup, blackened by fire. Held to the light it read: “World’s Best Gran.”