They’ve come back to me.
Shane and Amanda stood silent, staring hard at the chipping paint that I could scarcely say was white anymore. If I had known they were coming, I would have demanded a fresh coat. When I saw them last, adulthood hadn’t yet shoved its unfeeling spikes into their carefree innocence.
And now they’re home.
Their faces told me why.
But what could I have done?
I wanted to move. I tried. If I could have nestled myself deeper into the evening’s darkness to comfort those pain-riddled glares, I would have.
Twinkling tears blazed paths down their faces and shook me to my foundation. I only wanted to open my door to them, to shelter them. Like before.
“This is the end of it, Amanda,” Shane said in a small voice. He didn’t look at his little sister as he spoke. His eyes never strayed from me.
Amanda gave a short snuffle and wiped her eyes bitterly. “It only took us sixteen years.” She kicked at something metallic in the uncut grass and weeds.
“I guess we had to work up the nerve.”
If they had come to me sooner, things might have been different. They won’t listen to me now. They’ve made up their minds.
“Those kids. The things Dad did here – “
“Stop it,” Shane said, looking at Amanda for the first time since they arrived. “Don’t mention his name. It stays dead with him.” He held her pale hands in his. “We all got it from him. It’s a pimpled memory that needs to be popped.”
They blame me. And why not? I’m the last thing standing in their way to freedom. I watched and did nothing. Dammit! I’m as guilty as he is. The things I saw. I wish I had done more.
Shane reached down and came back up holding a sizzling red canister.
“You know, Shane, before all this happened, I liked living in this house, the C.L.R.”
“Yeah, we were the California Lunch Room kids. Everyone wanted to be our friend because it meant free candy from…him,” Shane said, ending the sentence with a grimace.
He twisted the metal lid.
The sharp smell of gasoline blitzed the air. Their intentions were clear. All these years, I’ve been racing to this point.
Hand in hand, the two siblings approached and doused my face and body with liquid death. Like when they were children, I did nothing but watch.
I didn’t think Amanda would be the one to strike the match. Yet, she did.
And the fire climbed me like so many imps.
I’m sorry! He was your father. I never imagined…Please, come home!
Yellow ribbons popped and spat their razing anger. Those were the sounds of Finish. They were the sounds of End.
Shane put his arm around Amanda’s shoulders and guided her to the sidewalk. They were kids again.
I watched them walk until the sirens came.
I watched until the fire set us free.
I enjoy creating stories from photographic prompts. They really are worth a thousand words (this in spite of the fact that the above story is just under 500). Are there any works of art that have inspired you to write something?