*The premise of this story is largely based off of the song Everything Can Burn by Al B Damned. You can find lyrics at AlBDamned.com
Grey and Black. Grey and black.
Grey sky, black house. Grey ash, black skeletal frame.
Grey and black.
I stare at the charred skeleton of my old house. So dark. It used to be this beautiful two story house, out in the country, surrounded by woods.
The blaze is over. Now that house is just rubble and ash.
I can imagine how it is inside...but I need to see. I need to somehow justify these actions. Clenching my fist around the pack of patches, I make my numb way forward.
The door falls open at my touch, black as my shoulder length hair. That's something all of us shared...black hair.
The floorboards groan under my weight- my underfed frame seemingly too much- punctuated with the crunch of former windowpane shards under my feet. I look up. The roof is gone. Just beams, cracked and charred. That's interesting...
I continue my morbid journey, to my sisters room. The dollhouse kind of survived. I mean, it's still there, just a much darker version. The teddy bear is a pile of ash and formerly shiny black buttons. A pair, of course, for the eyes.
So I...leave. I don't need to stare any longer at the now anorexic looking bed frame. Don't need to touch the melted plastic fibers of the synthetic carpet.
Continue the journey. Parents room next. I push open the door, which falls open at my touch, just like the front door. This door is more grey though. Maybe 'cause I started everything here.
The smokey haze drifts towards me. I wave it away, looking for an image I can engrave into my mind. Look towards the dresser. Broken perfume bottles, shards of the elaborate gilt-framed mirror. Bed's next. A glint of sparkling diamond, a flash of platinum bands. The four poster is skeletal looking as well.
No need to dwell, this is enough. My actions did this. My hand and a pack of cheap matches.
But is it justified?
I don't look at my room, I already know it's gone, ruined. But...
I look up the staircase. It isn't so bad there, the ebony banister, covered in a polished veneer, protected parts of the wall. And there's a picture of us. I come closer. Yeah, a portrait. Like the ones you get from Sears, staged with a blue background. Two parents, looking like a 50's era mom-and-pop. A little girl in a ruffled dress like a doll, 7, 8, I don't remember how old she was. Ever so cute, little pigtails, a missing front tooth; you can see it in her huge grin. And reluctantly, my eyes stray to the son. Me. 18. A freak in this normalcy of the portrait. Shoulder length black hair, pale, wearing a Misfits shirt.
The rest of them are looking at a fixed spot up and away from the camera. The son- me- looks directly at it. Challenging it, stubbornly engaging the lens in a staring contest I'm sure to win. No smile on my face either. A straight, grim line.
And how long ago was it taken before they threw me out? Turned my sister, my light, my joy, my very reason for life, against me? How long before they threw me into a wall, shoved me down the stairs, all while beating me with a belt? To convert me to Christianity, of course. How long befiore they watched me lying crumpled and broken at the foot of the stairs, shuddering and fighting back tears...and handed my sister the belt?
I can't bear to look anymore. She just looked at me, said 'You're bad,' and hit me in the face...
Am I bad?
I know this answer. Stumbling down the stairs, I hold my face, covering my eyes. Need to get outside...away from my light and joy...and my parents...
I burst out into the light, turning towards the hulking frame. "You betrayed me!" I scream. "I couldn't EVER be what you wanted, why!?" Fall to my knees, beating the dead shriveled grass. "You rejected me! I was your son!" I scream wordlessly after this defiant declaration, throwing handfuls of dirt at the house I destroyed. Me. I caused this...cremation.
I throw another handful. "But everything can burn!" I wail. "Everything can burn!"
The tears inch down my face, stinging my reddened eyes. Ash settles on me.
I stand, swallowing back my wail of frustration. Swallowing back my tears, my pain. Turn back towards the trees. A stump, a hanging rope fashioned into a noose. Prepared for this moment, the moment I realize she was right.
I stumble towards ti, my feet catching and dragging on the uneven ground.
Onto the stump. "Everything can burn." I say, quietly, slipping the noose around my neck and tightening it. "Everything can burn..." I whisper...
And kick the stump away.