I was about 9 years old when we went on a vacation with my relatives to a resort up in the mountains. The hotel we stayed in was quite nice for the standards back then. There was a casino for the adults to whittle their time away while the children were given a little pocket money to deposit into the savings account ran by the arcade next to it.
Given that the money we received was in short supply, we had to become creative when we parted with our last quarters. I remember one afternoon, my cousin Eleanor whispered to me that she had a new game to play; that it was a secret only special children were privy to.
When the adults weren't looking, she pulled me behind the thick polyester curtains and motioned me to be silent with her finger over her lips. Naturally, I was a little excited because I had a tiny crush on her. Very quietly, she pushed open the window and I felt the cold air rush in; my breath became visible in the frigid air. She then produced a box of matches and I thought she was going to re-enact a scene from "The Little Match Girl".
Swiftly, she struck the match, uttered a hushed prayer "look!", and pitched the burning match out the window. We leaned over the sill to see the flame descend until it disappeared from sight. "I want to try one" I said to her confidently, and so she let me. All the matches were spent and we shared the biggest smile of satisfaction. "Let's get some more" became a very common phrase between us, until one of our uncles ratted us out. He saw us going back and forth the curtains being too happy and knew something was wrong.
Our cave people instinct was severely curtailed by stern warnings from both our fathers. My father promised me a terrible hiding when we would return from the trip; that was a big downer for a kid. We soon forgot about the matches as our parents realized the error of their ways in not providing us enough change for the arcade machines. Everyone was happy again and the incident was buried under.
When I reached home, I was living a new life without matches. Nothing could stop me from becoming the perfect child in the world. I was very close to minor sainthood, until I saw a box of matches on the kitchen counter. Without hesitation, I grabbed them and ducked under the very flammable curtains my mother had lovingly made to keep the light out of my bedroom window. Instead of being a mindless follower of my cousin's enlightened ways, I decided to seek my own path and not throw lit matches out the window. A miniature campfire was much more preferable to me.
I kept my activities mostly under wraps until my mother started cleaning the window sills and discovered the little campsites. After many beatings, I was almost cured of the habit but I still needed to light one up. My father experienced a variety of emotions from anger to fury to mostly wanting to strangle me in my sleep. Eventually he repeated calmly to me why he was so disappointed. Unbeknownst to him, he was wielding very strong magic. There is no explanation why I stopped after that. I was no longer a firestarter.