There are dozens around this farm. Some of the boxes are fifteen years old, and have traveled with me cross-country in several homes. They are not trash, and no, you may not use them to light a cigarette or start a fire. They are luck pieces, borderline sacred, and I depend on them so very much.
It always felt wrong to use the last match. Over time I developed a pacing superstition that turned into ritual. When I get down to the last match I set the box aside and only use it in dire circumstance. My original line of thinking was that last match managed to not be sacrificed. That makes it lucky. Who knows what makes your fingers select one safety match over another? Be it random chance or subconscious mathematics - it made it so it gets a pass. I keep those one-match boxes as little prayers, pocket reliquaries situated around the house as haphazardly as my reckless optimism. They are symbols of hope and therefore they are magic.
There may come a day when I need a last match. It happens. When I am stressed to the point of tears I find one. I grab a candle and find a quiet place to sit down and meditate. Instead of lighting the candle and focusing on the flame I hold the candle in my sweaty hand and close my eyes. I count breaths, trying to think of the air slowly coming in and out of my body. Sometimes that isn't enough and I have to imagine I am surrounded by glass. Like as if I am in a perfect human terrarium. In my mind I am under this dome outside on a green hillside. It is a summer night and I am sitting on soft grass. I can see the stars and even feel the warm wind inside. If it rains I am dry. If monsters try to get in they can only claw and try - I can't even hear their growls behind the barriers. It is a safe place and no one can hurt me while I am in it. I imagine this until my heart rate slows and the work of the next hour seems manageable. (I don't even try to make the day seem manageable, just the next steps.) By this point the candle is usually warm and warped from the hand that held onto it like a flare gun on a sinking ship. I take the imperfect thing and set it down to be lit. I use one of the hope matches, the signal lights. If the candle takes the flame I let out a sigh of relief. I'll be okay. I made it this far. I just need to see the road a little farther up ahead...
I had to light one of these recently. It happened the way it always does. I don't plan for these rituals (I don't plan for anything) I happen upon one of the single-match boxes and am reminded of my ritual. They always seem to know when they are needed and fall off a bookshelf or are discovered behind dishcloths in a drawer. There isn't any actual hocus pocus involved. The "magic" is understanding that being still, positive, and hopeful when things seem darkest is my real power. It's my responsibility to keep the light on.
When I strike the last match in a box I smile. I am reminded that this is part of who I am. This silly, self-important, prayer. My road to this farm was never lit with torch beams but millions of tiny sparks. As long as I know a few of those flames are hoarded around the house I'm emotionally insured. They are tangible reminders I will be okay. They get me to a place of grounded action.
They are a choice set on fire.