Archived: Conflagration by Elizabeth Richards

Day Break

When daybreak comes, I am afraid.

I am afraid because no matter how hard I try, I cannot fathom seeing the damage done in the sunlight.

During the night I steer clear of windows, for that is the only way that I have any light that I do not wish for.

In the morning, however, I am defenseless to the light, and I am forced to look at the damage done.

Burnt lungs and scars on what was once unmarred skin. The smell of blood permanently attached to me and permeating the air around me.

I can’t avoid the damage, it’s already been done. But I can avoid acknowledging it. At least until I’m no longer afraid of what comes next.

But I still haven’t reached that place, so here I’ll stay. Drowning in my own blood, the sounds of the fire still roaring in my ears even though it was put out long ago. Waiting for the time to come when I don’t have to suffer through the days anymore.

The FireĀ 

The scars marred her pale skin when they found her.

The house had burnt down, trapping her inside. She’d made no struggle as it took her down, the smoke asphyxiating her and a beam dropping onto her chest, pinning her to the ground. She choked on her own blood as she died, the corners of her mouth encrusted with blood when they found her, although she was much too burnt to tell.

They say they can’t find the cause of the fire. I think they don’t want to admit they’ve assumed she started it herself, deciding that it wasn’t worth it anymore.

Her peers tell her parents they’re sorry for the loss of a daughter. They don’t talk about how they never called her that at school, nor did they call her by her name. They help bury her in the ground, making sure everyone can see the way they tear up as her casket is lowered; single faux tears dripping from their cheeks on to the glossy black wood of her casket.

I can still see her when I close my eyes. Her blonde hair getting burnt off and her lips twisted into what the firemen said was a scream, but I knew better. I knew it was a smile, a sign of her finally coming to terms with her fate.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think she started the fire. But I know she didn’t fight it either.