Ashes. Lots of ashes and some nostalgic smell of years past lingered in the crisp twilight, as I slowly stepped over the burnt house. It’s funny how, when something is taken from you, you continue to see what once was there. “The bedroom,” I can’t help but think, “This is the bedroom.” Though now, it was merely charcoal, kicking up some black dust with every step I took, and even the tears on my face left a streak through the dirt I had kicked up scouring through this life that had flattened in flame.
The sun was setting, and as the sky painted itself in colors of embers, I could not help but think that the entire world was aflame, and some sick beauty lingered with me. The black dust had covered my hands, as I had dug into this tattered life. A picture frame untouched by fire told of happier times. An old teddy bear who had survived my constant hold as a child had somehow managed to survive even this. I picked him up, holding him close one more time, and thought about all the years spent among this timber that had been shaped by love and sweat.
I weaved my way into the living room and stared blankly at the fireplace. The hearth remained and had long stood as my favorite spot to thaw out from chilly winters, snowball fights, and the hours I had spent constructing some igloo that would melt the next day. The mantle above it, now gone, had held Christmas stockings for Santa’s arrival, two or three white candles, and the family portrait had towered above. All were gone, though the melted wax served as a reminder that they had been there so recently. I sat on the mantle, whose stone had never known daylight or the brisk breeze that seemed to find its way straight through my ribcage.
Not all of the memories were good, though. Voices of the past swerved through my mind, and I heard with them our fights, the yelling and carrying on that had persisted among these walls that were now rubble. In the midst of such sick beauty, I could not help but find some peace in this terrible end – that, despite its pain, evoked a new beginning. I wept. I wept for the past and for the future; for the old house I had loved and everything in it I had hated; for the rubble; for the peace I had needed for so long. I wept until a voice, much sweeter than those that seemed to engulf my mind, quietly called to me. I looked up from the hearth and once again was filled with warmth.
Her presence was enough. She carried herself with radiance and spoke little, nodding and helping me up just to give me that much-needed hug. She had come ready, wearing gloves to dig through the rubble. I stood there in awe, stepping back into some pensive arrest. Sometimes, I look back on my life, and I don’t quite know where it’s been or how it got there. Standing there looking into those blue eyes across from me, though, I was lost and enchanted in some place I would happily lose myself any day. The rest of the house around me could have been standing. It could have never been there to begin with. No longer were there places I had once been. This hold she gave took me to places I was ready to go. I smiled, muttered out some soft thanksgiving, and we sat on the hearth together, teasing and giggling over unimportant things – just the way it should be.