Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Smouldering

I set the house afire early this morning. I stood in the basement. The cat had missed the litter box. The hot water heater leaked. The furnace groaned. I held a box of kitchen matches. Lit one. Touched it to a cone of sawdust. Laid on scraps from the table saw. Added old letters, children’s toys, my wife's mothballed sweaters. The first floor joists caught. I went upstairs, piled birthday cards on the smouldering floor. They shriveled and caught. I moved the couch over the pile. My wife called from upstairs. Check the toaster, something’s burning. The kids came downstairs. The oldest asked, why are you sitting in the corner with a box of matches? I shrugged. The flames engulfed the house. The kids watched television. My wife didn't see me as she went to the kitchen. Where’s the fire department, I wondered. Where will I sleep tonight? How will I go on? The neighbors came out of their houses for work. The embers on which they walked, red hot.