This is How You Take the Light from the Stars


When the little will-o’-the-wisp on the tip of your zippo licks the tail end of the trickle of gasoline, a small, illogical part of your brain worries the fire won’t walk up the porch steps. Of course it does. It races up the gasoline trail as a white hot wave, with a flourish of orange flames struggling to keep pace behind. You soaked the carpet and the drapes for good measure. The gusto with which the flames engorge the window panes makes you feel that splurging on the extra jerry can was worth it. But you didn’t expect it to be so hot. You take a few steps back until you’re almost on the road. The wind is blowing east, away from the corn field, just as you planned. You hope it will stay that way. The neighbor has no part in this. As the flames burst from the house’s shell and start to crawl up the exterior like ivy, you wonder what the melting point of an asphalt shingle is. Inside, the stack of Polaroids from your parents’ wedding is melting into one glob of bubbling triacetate. Mom and dad together forever through the miracle of combustion. What would they say to that? In your childhood bedroom, the little army of painted soldiers marches as a rivulet of lead, destination unknown.