The Fiery Death

October 27, 2011
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The air produces a cool, crisp breeze as I briskly walk home this winter afternoon. The snow falls in dashes of salt. The ground seems far too seasoned for my taste. Not a thing occupies my mind except the encouraging thought of entering my warm, welcoming home. Ever since the summer days ended, this one thought has motivated me to endure these harsh weather conditions while walking home. The people around me laughing and playing enjoy the snow and freely turn their face to the sky letting it fill their mouths. They casually stroll the streets and it fills me with awe. How they endure this torture I cannot say. My pace quickens. Every frigid bone in my body anticipates the chance to thaw out. This moment will come only as quickly as my feet will allow.
As I reach the door of my house, I do not even bother to brush my snowy boots on the welcome mat. The heat embraces me in a friendly hug the second I open the door. I frantically scurry around undoing buttons, unwrapping scarves, removing coats, and taking off hats. I make my way to my favorite room of the house. My grand fireplace sits in the center of the back wall of the den. All eyes turn to its radiance when entering the cozy living area. I spoil my fireplace like I would a grandchild or pet. Every Saturday I polish its metal frame. Every Sunday I wipe down its glass screen. The wood burns every morning and evening of the long winter months. The furnace proves to be my only comfort in this time of season. The fire emerges from the logs by a flick of switch. I regain feeling in my fingers and toes. After brewing myself a hot mug of coffee, I settle down in my favorite plush chair. My collection of books sit alphabetically within the bookshelf beside me. I begin to read my current novel that takes me back to those sunny weeks in July. No sooner than after I finish the first paragraph do I hear a sharp crackle coming from the furnace. This noise has never escaped the mouth of my container of fire before, and it causes me to jump. I glare at the fireplace and it glares back. I make a mental note to call my favored fireplace electrician to come and check on everything. I know my fireplace too well not to question its strange outburst.
I continue reading about full trees and bare grounds. I glance up at the clock and find that soon it will be time to climb into bed. The thought of leaving my cozy environment saddens me, but I know that if I hurry I can curl up under the blankets in no time. I stand and stretch. Then suddenly, the sounds of five more abrupt crackles enter my ears. I know that it surely could not have been my back popping. The pops that have just come from my provision of heat almost seem urgent, like I am being warned. Before fully considering these curious ideas, the wood begins spitting out sparks of fire in all directions like fireworks on Independence Day. I stand staring in pure shock at the spit of the fire bouncing off the screen, making its way towards the top of the chimney. Then, just as before, the fire softly burns, innocent within the confines of its cage.
My pupils do not move from the horror I have just witnessed while looking into the glass screen of my winter comfort. This appears to be no electrical problem. Again my eyes witness an unbelievable sight as the fire’s flickering flames form figures of fury. Images of death and torture dance before me. I stare into the fire, hypnotized by its tragic beauty. I walk towards its glowing pictures that I am fully transfixed upon, not knowing that my darkest doom awaits me. My only source of protection between the raging furnace and I disappears as the glass screen rises up without my assistance. The fireplace slides open like the mouth of a ferocious dragon about to swallow its prey. An invisible force of power pulls me into its open jaws. The horrifying hungry hearth heaves my body into a living hell. My whole being lights up into flames before I can regain conscious thought. The glass screen lowers. It traps me inside this monster I once loved.
As my flesh slowly burns to ashes, my head pounds, and my mind wanders to dreams of winter. I imagine myself walking along the road home, but this time casually, slowly, taking in the dashes of salt that cover the earth. I intently watch the people playing in the cold precipitation. I breathe in the cool air and let the wind bring goose bumps upon my arms and legs. I even take the long road home, dreading the idea of entering my stuffy home. I do not want to even lay eyes on the hot black box in the center of the back wall of my favorite room. The furnace, my grandchild, my comfort, my motivator has become a monster. It has engulfed me in its treachery and deceived me through its haughty tricks. I bang on the glass screeching in pain, but no one comes. The furnace becomes my grave. May the money saved on my cremation be spent wisely. My soul flickers into a burning blaze as I watch the confused men walk into the living room, and turn their eyes to my radiance. I feel only rage, hate, and heat.

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