"I mean, somebody has to do something!" the old woman said, in the same voice she used to command her granddaughter around or her boss and that she learned from her husband, who had it from his father. Unlikely as it seemed, the rocker boy next to her agreed, in this moment his song was over and for a brief moment, the world intruded in his bubble. He followed her gaze and saw her: the burning woman on the other side of the street, in front of a door that hadn't been used in twenty years, to her left the fish market, to her right: a flower shop. She had been sitting there, ablaze, for the last few weeks, casting her eyes to all passers-by, but they avoided her and the flames, looking at their phones even though the news there were even worse, looking into the sky that was wearing it's best grey, looking at the door that hadn't been used in twenty years. Looking at the ground, sticky with the oily exhaust from the harbour that had settled here. But they didn't look at the burning woman when passing, convinced themselves they didn't see her and eventually they didn't.
I was on my way to the factories that day, a celebration day, when I first saw her. She was small and old, wrinkled face, shabby winter cloak that was slowly got darker under the ashen snow. She was burning bright like a bonfire, cracking, blazing. I had to turn my head away from her because the heat was too intense, but before I did, I saw her eyes, piercing blue and alive, daring me. Still, I turned away, inwards. Her image wouldn't leave my mind afterwards, everytime I blinked I saw her in flames. On the way home, I chose a different route.
My friend and flat-mate saw her too.
"I'm not sure if she really is aflame," he said, "It could be a trick - I heard they do it organized in some way." When I told him that I felt the heat, he shrugged. "Good trick, then."
Could I have helped her somehow? I dared not approach too closely, but one night I actually stopped and asked her, but she looked at the ground, shaking her head. I stumbled, blinded by the light, home and felt ashamed.
Last Friday, she was gone, the space between the flower shop and the fishes empty, the doorway cleared and on the black sticky spot that oozed onto the sideway, the snow settled as it had on the burning woman, the whole city, the country.