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.

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