After just awakening—my eyes were bleared and my legs wiggled like an insect entangled in a spider’s web—I saw a news report of a burning school on television; it reported that four teenagers were behind the fire. However, their identities weren’t confirmed.
My father was sitting in front of the television, already drinking at 6:43 a.m. Disturbed with such a heinous act, I decided to ask my father for a clean-cut reasoning behind the teenagers’ decision.
“Why would they do something so bad?” I asked with sluggish words that made me sound like I was singing with a hoarse throat.
At first, it seemed as though he hadn’t heard me, until he hurriedly cocked his head towards me and stared directly into my eyes.
“Nothing reasonable,” he replied, drunk and disorderly. “The reason hasn’t been confirmed but I assure you it’s something ridiculous.”
“There has to be a good reason. People don’t burn down schools for nothing,” I replied in a rude tone.
“Son, the world is full of people we can never understand. Even if you refuse, someone else will gladly light the match.”
After speaking those words of bitter truth that raised as many questions in my mind as they did the goose bumps on my skin, he requested that I pour him another beer. I watched the drink become ebullient as I poured it into the fine glass. The foam dribbled onto the floor as I carried it to my father, being cautious with every step. When I handed it to him, he clumsily spilled at least a quarter of it onto his jeans.
“Sh—should I get you a tow—”
“No! No, it’s—it’s okay.” He leaned his head back and—for a moment—a sorrowful expression fell upon his face. “Son ….”
“Never light the match.”
His eyes opened to reveal a foreboding concern; they were gutters, flooded, and they would soon overflow. His demons stood tall before me, gnashing their keen-edged teeth, growling with penitence. Something about his anguish convinced me that he had once done what he so passionately insisted I not do. “Please,” he begged, “stay out of the woods.”
I nodded reluctantly. Then he threw back a great swig, tears falling like rain down his cheeks. His words—although shouting into my mind—remained in my ears.
Never light the match.
Thank you for reading this excerpt from my recently published short story, Trinity’s Garden. The full story is available on Amazon for FREE 7/08/18 through 7/12/18 and I would deeply appreciate any feedback. Thank you, and happy reading!