The Burning

Burning Coal

Godson stood at the edge of the burnt grass and looked over what remained of the church. There was a lot to see, but also very little. He sighed deeply and wonder why people did what they did.

Huddling into his thick red Parker coat against the late autumn wind, Godson stepped on to the blackened ground. The dead grass crackled loudly under him, just like the fall leaves. He took a deep breath and smelt smokey, earthy air. Even though it had rained in the early hours of the morning, the scent of the fire was still strong.

He came to a large stone, the first of many scattered around. Inspecting it, Godson tried to figure what where it had come from. Maybe from the door arch or one of the windows? It was impossible to tell. The stone had a large black scorch mark across one side. The fire must have been raging hot.

Godson moved on towards what had been one of the front windows. He spotted something and knelt to pick it up. It was a shard of red glass. He rubbed it between his fingers and straight away he could see the stained glass window that had been just above his head. He looked for more glass, but couldn’t find any bigger fragments.

Slipping the glass piece into his pocket, he walked fully into the church ruins. The floor was still mostly in attached but covered with soot, burnt things and fallen stones. He walked carefully over it all and towards were the alter had once been.

‘What devil compels someone to burn down a small community church?’ Godson said a loud.

He balled his fists and gritted his teeth. The anger that he had been trying to subside was rising. A small part of him had been hoping there’d be something left, but now it was clear there was nothing.

The smell was worse here and it felt like the smoke was clogging his lungs. He coughed and had to turn away. He had to leave. Even though he didn’t want to. Perhaps, under all this destruction was something that could be saved?

It started to rain again and Godson give up. He walked back out of the burnt church and to his car. Getting in, he sat looking over for a few moments then drove home.

Days later the police report came through. Godson sat at his desk and read it. A gang had actually been stealing the brickwork, wires, roofing and in fact everything they could get there hands on, just before the fire had started. It seemed they might have caused it and so far the fire bridge had said it was accidentally. Not the news Godson wanted to hear.

‘I won’t rest till this is solved,’ Godson muttered, ‘God. You must help me to bring to justice the people who did this.’

Falling into prayer, Godson saw the image of a burning church in his mind. Somehow, he knew the answers he seeked where there still.

Break

She wanted me to break it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to swing the hammer. In my mind, I could see the mirror shattering and glass spilling forth. The carpet would sparkle with piercing shards and the wooden frame would stand empty, like a gaping eye socket looking blindly upon the room.

‘Go on, Conner, do it!’ Annabel shouted from behind me and for a few seconds I saw her reflected alongside me. She laughed, the sound of a breaking vase mingled with her.

My tight grip loosened on the handle and the hammer fell to my side. My reflection copied me and turned away as I did so. She was dancing around, her movements ungraceful, and singing out of tune with the 12 Stones song that pounded from the tiny speaker system. Under her feet porcelain, glass and wood cracked. She kicked away a sofa cushion and spun around almost tripping on a snapped shelf half. She looked like a demented pixie, high on something that had taken control of her body.

‘Endless days are haunting me!’ she screamed, ‘Open eyes and I can’t sleep. I need this now to rescue me!’

Annabel dropped her hands, they tangled in the black lacy trim of her mini skirted dress. I released the hammer and stumbled over to her as she started to fall. I grabbed her, but she slipped from my arms and landed on the floor. Laughing, she sprawled out. I stared at her feeling numb with shock. Her coal tights were ripped in multiple places, her red platform shoes were sprinkled with detritus, whilst her Goth dress, which happened to be one of my favourites because it was black and patterned with red flocked skulls, vines and roses, had a covering of grey dust and white paint flacks.

She sat up, put her arms back so she could rest on them and crossed her legs. Her chest was heaving with laughter and deep breathing. I became transfixed by the moving tops of her breasts. She blew a dishevelled curl of her dark red hair away then turned to me.

‘Lay here,’ Annabel said silky, whilst patting a spot next to her.

I shook my head and instead looked around the room. It had become unrecognizable due to the destruction we had caused, but I could still remember how it had looked before the house had been left in the state we had found it when we’d broken in.

‘Do you think your grandparents would have wanted this?’ I asked her, waving my hand about the room and trying to encourage her to come back to some sense.

Annabel shrugged and in a definite voice spoke back, ‘who cares? They are dead and my aunt wants to rip this place apart and sell it. None of it matters any more, Conner.’

‘Still, that doesn’t justify what we’ve just done!’

‘Why should I justify what my aunt’s doing? Isn’t this the same thing?’ she yelled and struggled up from the floor. Her palm caught on something and a red line streaked across her skin. Moaning, she inspected her hand, but it was only a scratch.

‘No, it’s not,’ I said in a low voice, though because of the loud music and her distraction she didn’t hear me.

She went to the mirror and picked up the hammer. Heaving it in both hands, she threw it and was rewarded by the smashing glass.

‘Yeah!’ she cried out, jumping up down with her fists in the air.

Fragments of glass lay at her feet, reflecting the ceiling above and flashes of her. The rest of the glass still clung to the frame, shaking and rattling together as if in fright. Annabel’s shoes stomped on a large portion, which sent a spider’s cobweb of lines across the surface. I grabbed her arms, pinning them and ending her bouncing.

‘Stop! Stop!’ I shouted and shook her.

I felt her body tense and gear up. She spit on my face and twisted out of my hands.

‘You are just like them! Get out! I don’t want to ever see you again!’

I wiped my face and stared at her. Annabel was physically shaking with grieve and anger. Her finger was pointing at the door which led out into the hallway and the front door. Her hair fell in madness around her and there was hate in her eyes.

‘Fine,’ I replied, ‘I didn’t want to be your boyfriend anyway. I just did it out of pity and because everyone said you were good in bed.’

I went towards the door, debris crunching under my boots and then something heavy struck across my back. I paused, dizziness and sickness suddenly hitting me. I tried to turn to see what it was, but instead my body bent over and I gasped for breath. I felt the air whoosh cold around me and something collided into me again. I sank to my knees, the floor rose to meet me, blackness bloomed in my vision and I faded out.