I didn't live in a house, I didn't own a car. The little money I earned in mopping other peoples' crap off the floor was wasted on matches and petrol. It was hard for people like me to stay in one place for very long. I spent most of the day in a barren park surrounded by broken wire fence. When the night cast its sheet of darkness over me I was the only one who remained. The lights turned off and the people hid behind the safety of their multi locked doors. The stares of disturbance and the agitated yells disappeared for a while and I was left with my own thoughts. The voices in my head were louder than ever before. The streets were empty and only the leaden sky was left to see who I really was. I sat on a wooden swing and ran my long fingers along the burns scars on my arm.
As a child I used to stare into the open flames. There was something so beautiful about fire, a dangerous temptation for the sick. The flames had a power over me that was impossible to control. The matchsticks made their home in the pocket of my scorched jeans and it was havoc from then on. I had nothing but loneliness and the pleasure that came from all the ashes in my wake to keep me company during the long hours of the day.
I spun a a matchstick between my fingers and smiled at the jerry can between my feet.
“Tonight there will be light.” I dreamed of the tall houses before me collapsing in flames. A work of art as it would seem, and I was the artist. To the people in this town I was just that boy who spent his days sitting under a tree in an empty park. But I was so much more than that. I yearned for destruction and turmoil amongst the insanity that surrounded me. This was a new town; they would figure this out soon enough.
I could smell the petrol on my skin. Burning my nostrils, the nectareous odour filling me with a warmth that normal people couldn’t understand. I focused on a house on the street surrounded by yellowed grass, lonesome, and forsaken.
“I bet it'd look nicer on fire.” The voice in my head was impatient.
The dry grass swayed softly with the night's breeze. The house glaring down at me menacingly as I paced to its door. I curled my fingers against its cold knob and twisted it until the door groaned open. Before me was a large and bleak room with sickly curtains and flowery wall paper, curled with neglect. The wooden floor boards were coated in saw dust and the windows were shattered. I lifted the can up to my stomach and twisted the cap off.
“Let there be light.”
All was silent except for the gurgling of the petrol pouring onto the walls and floor boards. Anticipation and release rushed through my veins like a noxious plague.
“Savour this moment kid, take one deep breathe and light it up.” So I did as the voice ordered and took one big breathe.
“One.” I pulled out the redheads and picked a match. “Two.” I lit the match. The enslaving rush it gave me never got old. “Three.”I hovered a finger over the head as it emanated its alluring heat and tossed it under the curtains. I watched in wonderment as it crawled up to its drapes and spread across the floor boards.
It was truly beautiful. I could barely tear my eyes away from the bright, sharp flames inching closer to me every second. I spun around and rushed outside the house, the flames licking closer too my heels. I ran across the road and sat myself back at the little wooden swing. Swing swing.
It was always better to appreciate your art from afar. And it was quite a sight. The loud crackling noises filled the neighbourhood, the lights turned on and the doors unlocked. People soon gathered around, keeping their distance from the bright embers as they slowly collapsed, with such grace. I leaned my head on the tree and ran my hands over its harsh bark. I slid the matchbox open and pulled out the last matchstick. I looked up and smiled at the tall tree, envisioning the sound of crinkling leaves. The excruciating screams and gasps of the voices flooded my mind and the arduous silence of the night was gone.
“And there was light.”