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My pace is slow, burdened with memory.
I can almost feel his hand in mine, squeezing my fingers.
Impossible. If I come any closer the pain will be excruciating.
I take my first step.
My legs struggle to overcome the few scorched porch steps.
My weary mind struggles to find the will to get away.
As I reach the top, many memories unfold, overwhelming me.
I see a young woman being carried through the door,
Her smiling husband so obviously in love.
I push past this torture scene and walk into the blackened hall.
My baby, my daughter roams this hall, chasing the cat, giggling.
I yearn to pick her up and squeeze her. To tell her I love her.
I reach out, she looks at my hands, and fades.
This house is full of agony, and yet I am forced to stay.
My kitten lopes across the hall, into the kitchen, I follow.
The dusty, broken down room transforms into its former glory.
I see a wife and daughter covered in flour,
mouths full of cookies, laughing hysterically.
I cannot stand this.
The father walks across the room, smiling yet again at the heart warming scene.
He kisses the daughter’s head, and the mother’s cheek.
They all turn to stare at me, and explode into dust.
I didn’t cause this, I couldn’t have.
But I did.
The living room holds a shattered television,
In front of which the family is sitting, snuggled together.
My beautiful daughter turned to me,
Like a photo on fire, sunspots burned her away.
I ascend the stairs quickly, though this is surely unsafe.
As I run to my bedroom, I see all my treasured memories,
Replaying again and again.
Because of me there will be no more to make.
The bedroom is charred beyond recognition, no bed to fling myself upon.
I walk slowly toward the window knowing what I will see.
A woman ran from my house, in full panic.
Somehow I could see the fire’s reflection in her eyes.
“No! Turn back! Save them!’ I scream.
I scream for all the world’s worth.
And yet she does not hear.
I did not hear.
Although I could not see it,
I know what she has left behind.
Love, trust, hope,
All to burn in this house.
I am a coward.
My cowardice is rewarded by loss.
The burn of regret is worse than one of fire,
I deserve more than an eternity of suffering.