Archived: The Fire

By Elizabeth Richards


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 seemingly 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 the 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 blond hair getting burnt off and her lips twisting into what the firemen said was a scream, but I know better. I know 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.