Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

The Burning Man

A father leans down and every so gently and touches small Carah’s soft forehead to his lips.
With words like silk slipping from his mouth he whispers, “I’ll be with you again. Don’t worry.”
Never has that father ever loved something so much as he did his daughter. Not even his wife,
whose beauty could be compared to mythical creatures in fairy tales and kindness was like warmth from
the sun? although he loved her much as well.
Carah took those words to heart and says back, “ I love you.” and presses her face to his
chest with the tightest hug her little body could give. She loved her father just as much he did her.
Some people try and say family love is unconditional love, and each and every love was the
same, but that is not the case this time around? Carah loved her mother, but her love for her father was a
special bond. He was her best friend. Although she was young, a month shy of her sixth birthday, she
loved him.
The father extracts himself from the hug, and leans in to a strong embrace of his wife. With a
passionate kiss, and a sincere I love you, he was off for a full three months. The whole summer for his
work.
The wife reluctantly let go as the father reluctantly stepped away into his cab and was gone from
them. Poor Carah couldn’t comprehend why her father had to go, and her mother had not the slightest
clue of how to explain it. All that could be given was a promise of return. A promise that the father
never ever intended to break, a promise made to his little world of a girl, and so he will not break that
promise? no matter what.
*******
Two and a half strenuous months creep and scratched slowly by, each and every hour slowly
being counted? every night a thousand years. A week and half more to go, and the father will be home.
He’ll be in his wife’s arms and his daughter in his. He will be happy, his wife will be happy, his daughter
will be happy.
He walks through the parking lot to his car, and a strange feeling sat in the pit of his stomach.
He felt on edge, like he was being watched. He scanned the surrounding area suspiciously, but to no
avail. There was not a soul in sight aside from himself, so he continued to his vehicle. He slid into the
driver’s seat, and slowly put the key in ignition, unable to shake off his restlessness. Something just
wasn’t right. Before he took off, he called his wife.
“I can’t wait until you come home.” She says sweetly. “Carah and I have been counting down
the days, oh she’s grown so much.”
“I bet she has. Six years old. Goodness. I can’t wait until I’m home either. I miss you two so
much, tell Carah that for me? Where is she?”
“She’s with my mother tonight,” She sighed “She was just restless laying around here, she
doesn’t want to go hiking through the woods or riding her bike with me.” She paused “That is only
you.”
The father couldn’t help it, a large grin spread across his face. “Tell her I love her,”
“I will.”
“And know I love you.” He added.
“And I love you too.” He heard the smile ringing from her voice. This whole thing reminded him
of them in high school, where every word they ever said to one another made their hearts flutter, they
were in love. He thought of himself lucky, still in love.
“See you soon.”
The line went flat.
His weary feeling was suttle now? not gone, but less radiant. He figured it was just his mind
missing his girls. He drove from the parking lot, on his way back to his apartment.
The traffic was tough? Miami speed limits ranged much higher than his small southern Georgia
town, it took him awhile to adjust. His car slid through the lanes of traffic, he thought of it sort of like
playing chess, although he had no analogy to the king, the purpose of his moves. “Maybe the king is my
apartment.” He thought for a moment, “Or maybe the king is my home.” He couldn’t help but relate
everything back to his daughter, his wife, his home.
Suddenly, there was a sound of metal and rubber, the harsh scream of cars sliding along the
road, and then there was the sound of glass shattering. Awake, but more dead than alive, the man
stepped out of his car. His astonishing welfare sent him through a shock. That shock is what cost him his
life. It caused him to be oblivious to the ongoing traffic, and the transfer truck that was nearing him at 80
miles an hour.
********
The phone rang. The wife hurriedly ran over to the phone. “Hello?”
“Hannah. Have you seen the news?” A worried voice said.
“No, why?” Hannah somewhat felt a relief, yet at the same time, a knot tightened in her chest.
“Its about Jackson.”
Hannah went running into the living room, clicking on the TV and turning it to the news. There
was a helicopter view of a huge wreck that killed five people.
Her heart sank.
A news woman announced “A major crash in Miami Florida. It started when a silver SUV
jerked out of it's lane into ongoing traffic. It hit a red honda civic, which then caused a major pile up of
at least seven cars. But the interesting factor in all of this is that a blue Silverado was hit head on, and the
driver stepped out of his car. Until that point he was ok, but the ongoing traffic did not have enough time
to break before he was hit. His remains are beyond unidentifiable, but his license plate number is being
identified so the family will be aware as soon as possible. There were three cars that flipped....” but after
that, there was nothing.
She couldn’t believe what she heard. Her heart had stopped, her mouth was dry, her body was
frozen. The pain she felt now was indescribable. Her husband, father of her child, her lover, for eternity,
forever...until death do them part. Gone.
**********
The wife didn’t sleep that night, for she was no longer a wife? but a widow. A young, full of life
and potential, wanting more children, more with her world, that she now couldn’t have. For hours she
laid there looking at the ceiling, thinking. Trying to convince herself it wasn’t Jackson. Not her Jackson.
Eventually, the sun rose.
Hannah couldn’t tell Carah? not yet. She had a week and a half to think of something to say, an
explanation for a six year old of why her beloved father wouldn’t be returning home. He wouldn’t be
keeping his promise.
The phone call came. Hannah always knew Jackson wanted to be cremated. So that’s what she
would do.
She cried for hours as she packed her bags for Miami. Her head spinning, she didn’t even know
where to start without him. She had been living without him for three months, but his existence still
lingered there. She still knew he was there. She picked up the phone.
“Mom? Could you watch Carah a few more days?” Hannah asked, desperately trying to find
the right words for what she needed to say.
“Sure sweetie. Why?” Her mother asked kindly, as if she were expecting an answer like, ‘I
need a spa day,’ or a ‘girls’ getaway weekend.’
“Jackson was in a car wreck last night. He died.”
There was a long silence. Another tear streamed down Hannah’s face.
“I’m so sorry sweetie. Is there anything I can do?”
“Just watch Carah, and don’t tell her, please.” she paused, then said “Tell her that Daddy said
he loves her, very much.”
“Okay sweetheart. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
The line went dead. Dead. That’s what everything felt like now.
Hannah had always liked how her mom didn’t linger. She accepted the facts, offered support,
but didn’t dawdle her with questions. It's as if she knew she was going to hear it, a extensional amount
of patience ran through her veins. Hannah was thankful for that.
*********
The funeral was short? not many people came, because it was so far out of town. Hannah sat
there, as her husband’s remains went up into a flame, his soul being released back into the universe. She
hoped that somehow he could tell Carah goodbye.
*********
Hannah’s visit wasn’t long. She was back within two days. She sold the truck to a dealer while
she was there, and got his belongings out. The only thing of value now is a little picture of Carah playing
on a swing laughing, and a picture of Hannah and him, looking at each other with love in there eyes.
They sat on his dashboard near his speedometer. Always in view. “what a sweet man.” Hannah sighed
as she drove back to Georgia.
She got home late that night. Carah wanted to come home, so Hannah’s mother brought her
tired little self over as soon as Hannah walked through the door.
“Mommy!” Carah smiled and came running into her mothers’ arms.
Hannah’s hugs were usually soft and sweet, like her personality. But this hug was deeper. This
hug was stronger. She wasn’t only hugging her one and only daughter Carah, she was hugging all that
she had left of her husband.
Hannah’s mom came and hugged her, a tear rolling down her face as well.
“Go get ready for bed.” Hannah told Carah, and off her little feet ran, pitterpattering
up the
stairs.
“Are you okay?” Hannah’s mother asked.
“No.” Hannah said with tears in her eyes and a weak smile on her face. “I just can’t believe it.”
“I know sweetie.” She hugged her daughter, reminding her of Carah, still so young.
“I just, I don’t even know what to do, where to start. I just..” Hannah sobbed “I loved him
mom. I loved him more than anything in this world. I loved him because he loved me, and he loved our
daughter. I loved him because he was always kind, and funny, and smart, and everything that’s good in
this world. And now I..” She cried.
“Shh.” Hannah’s mom stroked her hair. “I loved him too. He was a sweet man, who loved you,
and loved Carah. But knowing him, it kills him to see you like this. Wherever he’s at.”
“I know,” Hannah’s sobs became whispers. “I’ll be okay. Thanks for everything mom.”
With that, her mother left.
Hannah walked upstairs, dragging her feet. She passes Carah’s room, expecting her to be fast
asleep. But she wasn’t. She sat straight up in her bed.
“What’s wrong baby?” Hannah asked her daughter, coming over to sit on the edge of her bed.
Carah’s big brown eyes stared off past her mom. She quietly said “Mommy, I’m scared.”
Hannah’s heart paused, “Why are you scared?”
“I saw a man today.”
“Where at?”
“I was on the swing, at Grandma’s, and just outside her yard, I saw a man. But he was really
scary. He was looking at me, he told me goodbye, and then disappeared into the trees.” she paused,
then added “He was on fire.”



Join the Discussion


This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

dazi4j said...
Jun. 28, 2013 at 9:32 pm:
WOW, this is an amazing story. I cried all the way through it.So heart felt, and real.  Then the last paragraph...BAM my heart was ripped from my chest. Was not expecting that. This is a great story and could easily be a movie.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Dazi4J said...
Jun. 28, 2013 at 9:09 pm:
When I first read this I cried all the way through it. So heart felt and then BAM! The last paragraph...tore my heart right out. So unexpected. This could be a movie.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback