In Flames

A Play in Three Acts

A Fruit Stains Production

Act I 

Lilia was trying to open a locked box under Zina’s bed. Something was going on and she wanted to find out what. Maybe Zina was pregnant. Maybe one of her teachers had molested her. Maybe she was living a double life as a stripper. Whatever it was, the box held the diaries and the diaries held the secrets. 

To open the lock, Lilia called upon her little-used gifts. She tried candlework, spells, and mind games. It should have been easy but she only succeeded in giving Theodore a headache and a loud ringing in his ears. And setting the flowers he bought her for Valentine’s Day on fire. 

“Stop this!” he hollered, clutching his head. “What have you done to my roses!” The smoke alarm started blaring.  

‘ “You should have sent them to Father Barnabas,” Lilia snapped. “I bet he’d like that.” She poured the rest of her tea over the flames and sighed. She hadn’t expected Zina to block her. 

Act II

 Zina herself was suffocating. She finally tasted the passion she had craved for so long, only to find that it could also crush her, trapping her in a tight, airless hole.

The girl whose hand he was holding was a woman. She didn’t have circles under her eyes and looked elegant even in a puffy parka. There was nowhere to hide.

He met her eyes coldly, as if to say, “See? You were nothing to me. Look how easily I can throw you away.” She looked away first, not wanting him to see her face crumble pathetically. 

The first time he touched her she felt heroic, like she was immortal. Now she had been turned back into a teenage girl wearing a grubby school uniform stained with tomato sauce, a zit bulging out of her chin.


When the strange aura around her mother started to make her dizzy, Zina fled the house. Outside, she unfolded the last note he wrote to her, the only proof that her love affair had really happened. 

She had barely cried. You couldn’t show up at the dinner table with puffy red eyes, it simply wasn’t allowed. The emotion had been building for three days and now it had to explode.

Zina looked down and noticed that the corner of the tattered piece of paper had caught fire. She watched it burst into flames in the palm of her hand, painless flames that burnt out quickly. Was this her mother’s doing, or her own? 

As the wind scattered the ashes, she felt a release, followed by a calm emptiness. 

A Note from Fruit Stains Productions: 

The painting above Lilia and Theodore’s couch in Act I is a crude rendition of an iconic photograph by the Blue Noses, called Era of Mercy. I highly suggest taking a look at the original here. Thank you Aleksandr Shaburov and Vyacheslav Mizin for your majestic work. 

Also, I would like to thank Thaddeus Stout and the Shaky Columns theater for hosting the first run of this production. We will be back as soon as we rebuild the set. And we’ll remember to have buckets of water on hand next time. Also, sorry about your upholstery. The velvet curtains were divine while they lasted. 

About the Artist

Fruit Stains is a writer and illustrator from Toronto. Her weekly neurotica-filled newsletter will reassure you that someone out there is more fucked up than you. Until December 25th, her obsessive brain will be thinking of nothing else but Fruit Cake. Read more at

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