They all died in a fire I started. Charred bones scratch at my dreams most nights. Terror sweats. Indigestion. Gray hairs. My body’s tearing itself apart from the inside.
* * *
When I was little, I liked to burn ants with a magnifying glass. When I got older, I realized that those ants were going home to their families. When I got older still, I realized that ants don’t actually have a family unit in the traditional sense. They’re simply workers produced by a queen. It occurs to me now that the only reason people don’t go around stepping on ants is because it’s beneath them.
* * *
Have you ever seen a meadow burn? Flowers and leaves wilt like old cabbage. The fire feeds on death like a meth addict. I, too, have a problem. I’m a pyromaniac. I can’t stop building fires. I’d always been careful, tiny fires where I’d dug out around them, surrounded it with rocks. When I tried to stop, cold turkey, I think I went a little insane. I had to stop smoking, too. It was too much temptation. Then it happened. One windy day, walking through the hills, and I find a lighter. That’s all it takes to commit arson–one windy day. The wonderful thing about fire is that any traces I may have left for the police have likely been burned away. Fire burns indiscriminately. It doesn’t care whether you’re person or a flower or an ant.
* * *
I can’t help but feel for those who lost their lives as a result of my carelessness. I’ve tried to blame them, tell myself that they should have left their houses sooner, the damn idiots. But it’s my fault. Only me. I drink pepto like water. Ironically, it’s wreaking havoc on my stomach. I don’t care. Not like ants, those people had families, loved ones. Even if they didn’t, it was wrong. I’ve tried to throw away that lighter a thousand times…