Describe a memory that defines part of your identity.

After someone flipped the light switch off, the room went dark and the red-orange cherry beckoned from the green ash tray where the man had attempted to snub it out. In this memory, the emerald color of the ashtray looks like a nest of green-blue glass holding a cinder egg. I could not resist touching the orange pulsing there in the darkness. I see the thumb and forefinger of my right hand extending toward the ashtray, and a rush floods me as the small hand approaches the object of my desire.

The longing is shattered. A spike of intense pain and a yowl overtakes me as the cigarette cherry burns the finger tips. Finger tips under a layer of water. The watery vision tasting like salt. And then my mother’s alarmed face, and her arms and chest around me. This memory houses, for me, the notion that the pleasure we experience with intense desire is often accompanied with pain. I have thought of it during heartache or heartbreak.