--THIS ISN'T WORKING
…Yesterday I wrote a story. It started out sad and ended sad. What do you think that means?
…Here's another sad one that I wrote which appeared in Full of Crow:
We watched it smolder. Water cannons shot arcs over the remaining flames and the weight of water combined with the charred cinders collapsed the building, sending plumes of smoke across the lot where we once lived.
Magic, black or otherwise. Hell opening up from underneath the earth. Hell, it was, or had been.
I took Tina’s hand. It was small as a dog paw. I said, “It’s okay,” and pressed hard for reassurance.
I patted my back pocket. The money I’d taken was a thick wad. It didn’t make me any less nervous, but it provided spurs of hopefulness.
We walked in the opposite direction of the commotion, well away from the fire trucks and gawkers. Our Foster parents wouldn’t be back for several hours unless they’d been called. The firemen would search for us and find no bones, but it’d be too late anyway.
Tiny and I went through the wooded greenbelt. Eventually, we came to an abandoned church.
The window glass was stained in grape juice and berry colors, gems that made me think of sucking candy. When you put the pieces together, they made up a medieval woman praying while two angels hovered over her shoulders.
We went in through the back door, down the hall. My heart was probably beating as hard as Tina’s, but the place was empty of people.
Inside the main sanctuary, ceilings reached up sky-high and there were more glass murals of saints and whatnot.
Tina said we should leave, but I held her hand tight and tugged her until we got right up to the front row where the good seats were. When I turned, I saw three aisles and quickly counted 36 long, mahogany pews.
“Sit,” I said.
Tina did, but she asked a penny for my thoughts.
I was a big reader because The Fosters wouldn’t let us watch television. There weren’t many novels around The Foster Home, so I read whatever was handy—the Bible with its contradictions, road maps, an atlas, The Yellow Pages. One book I’d found was called “Alienation Nation.” It had this particular passage that got me thinking. It said something like a house is a building, while a home is a house where love exists among families. I knew that was true without having to be told, but after I’d read those words, they settled in me like grout between tiles, and quite frankly, they were the reason I started plotting the fire in the first place.
Tina asked was we going to live here, in the church. I said it didn’t matter, didn’t matter where we lived because if she and I stayed together we’d make a fine enough life for ourselves. I could tell she didn’t believe me. Her confidence lacked because I let Mr. Foster call her names and punch me around whenever he started scratching himself.
A selfish urge in me prodded that I explain about arson and what I’d done and how I’d done it. Everyone wants the gratitude of others, even if it doesn’t make you quite a hero.
Instead I said, “Let me tell you something you don’t know yet.”
I went on and on with the story of our lives and the wonderful things that were going to happen.
I started it on Christmas day in the far future. I was a grown man and she a woman with a husband and two great kids. I described her youngin’s and the gift exchanges, how the food tasted and how the room smelled like cinnamon and turkey gravy, but when Tina asked for me to detail the house and the way the rooms were outfitted, I said it didn’t make a difference. I said it wasn’t a house she lived in, it was something much better.