Harbinger

Author: Jamie Fouty

Everything dies in this house but me. I don’t know if I’m immortal or if this is punishment. Three births happened here, perhaps equilibrium was wanting.
The second death was the hardest; the third took two at once. After the fourth, I abandoned the balance theory.

Retreating from society was minimally effective. Then the fifth occurred: crows pulling apart a snake in midair as you see in a NatGeo special. I couldn’t protect the wildlife from these demises either.

I sought the wisdom of medicine, consulted witches and clergy, but death kept appearing on my land. A decapitated rabbit one day, a slumped over salesperson at my door the next – I stopped counting.

I was the only constant that remained, physically unscathed despite my best efforts. I refused resignation to this merciless existence. Unwelcome memories abound; the worn grey couch where we made love, the lamp that dimly lit late-night conversations, the dingy mosaic rug where children took their first steps, and their last. Pictures long since stowed in a tower of brown boxes lining the garage, hiding triggers. The sun-soaked deck once the site of neighborhood BBQ’s, then where our pets laid for eternal slumber. Offers to purchase came frequently, but I couldn’t risk that burden.

Leaving with only the sweet smell of gasoline and retribution filling my nostrils, I effortlessly flicked the match. The delicate ivy, attached to this home as I used to be, singeing with loud snaps. Cedar shingles erupted with a belch of black smoke enveloping the night sky. The fierce orange glow radiated warmth I hadn’t felt in years. My eyes glistened with a mixture of relief and sorrow, not mutually exclusive. Windows shattered and the grass withered as fire unapologetically devoured it. Three-story tall flames ravaged the very last of everything, and nothing.

Denying assistance from the fire department, they kept the blaze contained to my property line. When charred dust was all that remained and everyone had stopped gawking, I said goodbye and turned to leave, nearly tripping over a fresh carcass sprawled beneath my feet.

7 Comments

  1. Jae

    Destroy to create: a rule that carries so much sorrow.

    Good tale.

  2. mikebailey1979

    What a lovely piece. You captured so much emotion so effectively. I loved the symbolism of the fire being allowed to cleanse away the memories of the past so that the main character (she?) could move forward, only to find that new carcass at the end – never truly able to leave it all behind.

    • jamiefouty

      Thank you. You summed that up perfectly, you try to move on but it’s still there.
      Yes the main character is female; in some stories I try to write where it could be either, although I suspect sometimes it’s given away in the delivery.

  3. Hari Navarro

    Really loved this Jamie, your style and subject matter is right up my street. Or, at least it was until you burnt the house down.

  4. Adam Gerencser

    “rugs where children took their first steps, and their last.” A painful piece to read, Jamie, well done – a sorrowful rendition of a modern-day King Midas.

    • jamiefouty

      Thank you, what an incredible observation. I appreciate the positive words.

Submit a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Random Story :

The Past

365tomorrows launched August 1st, 2005 with the lofty goal of providing a new story every day for a year. We’ve been on the wire ever since. Our stories are a mix of those lovingly hand crafted by a talented pool of staff writers, and select stories received by submission.

The archives are deep, feel free to dive in.

Flash Fiction

"Flash fiction is fiction with its teeth bared and its claws extended, lithe and muscular with no extra fat. It pounces in the first paragraph, and if those claws aren’t embedded in the reader by the start of the second, the story began a paragraph too soon. There is no margin for error. Every word must be essential, and if it isn’t essential, it must be eliminated."

Kathy Kachelries
Founding Member

Submissions

We're open to submissions of original Science or Speculative Fiction of 600 words or less. We only accepting work which you previously haven't sold or given away the rights to. That means your work must not have been published elsewhere, either in print or on the web. When your story is accepted, you're giving us first electronic publication rights and non-exclusive subsequent publication rights. You retain ownership over your story. We are not a paying market.

Voices of Tomorrow

Voices of Tomorrow is the official podcast of 365tomorrows, with audio versions of many of the stories published here.

If you're interested in recording stories for Voices of Tomorrow, or for any other inquiries, please contact ssmith@365tomorrows.com