It’s too much. Too much for me to process all at once. The kids and I have only been in the house for a month. I’ve only known Jim for a month longer than that. You all warned me. You all heard the rumors. But I wouldn’t listen. He was everything. Kind. Dashing. Good job. This beautiful home he refurbished with his own hands endeared him even further. He and the kids hit it off as if we had been together for years. He’s a gifted storyteller—that should have been my first clue! Karen, my oldest, loved his yarn about how the upper floors of the house burned in the sixties when two star-crossed teenagers tipped over a lantern in the attic. “They died in a fire as hot and tragic as their love,” he would say. So disgusting now to remember it. But that’s where it all connects, you see? I get it. It’s implausible. Impossible. A mental fabrication. A figment of the trauma. But that can’t be! I saw her! The alarm woke me and she was there under the smoke detector above the kitchen table. Her face besmirched with char, hair burnt to the scalp, bra and panties still smoldering. I screamed in harmony with the siren but as Jim and Karen crashed naked and panicked through the door from the garage, she vanished, leaving me in the vaporous shock of his betrayal, my ears ringing in a jagged, deafening silence.
Chrysalis, a growing collection of very short fiction.
That Night Filled Mountain
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Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.