“I can be better than this,” he thought out loud as he watched an assortment of items burn. In the fire was an old bed frame, a desk, photo albums, a few notebooks, and he had this all tallied neatly in a black journal titled ‘Burn Book’. He looked at the fire as it softly danced on things that once used to be his, and as this was happening he thought again, “I have to be better than this. I can’t fight the urges anymore but I have to be better than this.” Despite his hatred at what he had done he couldn’t help but marvel at the ballet of flames happening in front of him.

The flames slowly started to die; the items of the fire were reduced to ash and as the fire died he couldn’t help but feel a bit of sadness that it had gone. He sat there for another moment and looked at the pile of ash, “I’m sure going to miss that stuff,” he thought at last before he got up. To get the thoughts of burning things out of his mind he decided to sleep for the night. He had never dreamed about burning things before, so it seemed to him like it would be a good escape.

In his dreams however, his home was one fire. Somehow he knew that he had caused the fire and it looked massive. To him it looked beautiful and the way that fire raged on while still seeming peaceful was astonishing to him. Moreover he didn’t even feel a single ounce of sadness at knowing that his home was burning. The importance of the flame was encompassing all of his attention; nothing else mattered, not the fact of losing his home, not the fact of losing all the things he had inside. At that moment he felt the pang inside of his chest. He was asleep but he was all too familiar with what that pang meant. He was fixating on burning something again.

He woke up in a sweat and looked around and his house but everything was fine. It was still pretty late at night when he woke up but he couldn’t get back to sleep and all through him trying to sleep again he felt the constant nagging of wanting to burn his own house down. “I’m better than this,” he thought as he felt the urge increasing. He tried everything he could to win out over this feeling but it simply wouldn’t go away and it began to devour him.

He went to into his back yard to the shed and grabbed the gas canisters he had been using in previous burns. He was no longer conscious of what he was doing, it was like he was the puppet and his urges were the puppet master. He was only bound to follow his overwhelming desire to see the massive fire he saw in his dreams. He began covering every inch of the house he could in gas and he spared no surface. This fire was going to be at least as good as he dreamed. The house was primed to burn and the man had his matches in his had. He was absorbed in the sole thought of lighting the match and even fantasized about the moment where he would strike the match and a massive fireball would be created.

For a moment he started to fight back of control over his primal urges. He knew these urges well as he has tried to fight them before but he had never succeed and yet he tried anyway. For a the split second of control he was able to muster he decided to light the match while he was still in the room. He knew that if he lived through this fire he would go on a spree of destruction ending in his ultimate arrest. If he died with this fire there would no longer be anymore trouble.

He felt the strike of the match on the match box and a wave of pleasure rushed over him before the inferno spark up in the home. Nothing was saved from the fireballs destruction. The entire house caught up in flames so quickly that by the time the firefighters arrived it was already an uncontrollable inferno and so they had no choice but to merely contain it and let it burn out. The fire had slowly died and as it took it’s final breath the sun began to rise, and as if to coincide with that sun rise a man now naked rose from the ashes of his burning home. The firefighters rushed to the man who had risen from the ashes but the only words that came out of his mouth were, “I need help.”

17 thoughts on “Phoenix?”

  1. I really enjoyed this. You did a great job of detailing the obsession. I had a real feel for the emotions the narrator was going through.
    Only criticism is watch your tense, it seemed to jump a few times. I admit, I watch that closely because it is one of my personal greatest flaws that I am constantly battling with.
    Overall, wonderful story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Austin – thanks for stopping by and following my blog. I enjoyed this piece, particularly the ending, and you did a nice job of hooking the reader and providing a sense of place. If I can be so bold as to offer some constructive criticism I think the story would benefit from another edit just to iron out a couple of typos and to strip out some unnecessary words – you’ve got a really good central story but it could just be tightened up a little (I have to go through this process with my own work constantly!). Will look forward to reading more of your work 🙂 Cheers, Nik


  3. Hey Austin!
    What I took away from your piece may be a little different from a normal review. It made me uncomfortable honestly. And at first I didn’t know why. Was it the intimacy of the character’s thoughts and emotions that made me uncomfortable because it was believable or was it the idea of having to live with the urges of a pyromaniac? After reading it a few times and thinking it over. It’s all of the above and more. It’s the realization that though fire may not be my vice, there are other things that are. Other destructive habits that try their best to takeover and subdue the vessel leaving me or others feeling guilty, less of a person or ashamed. Anything that makes me stop and think, feel uneasy or read more than once is considered to be one thing in my perspective:

    True art.

    Keep writing. Keep rewriting. Keeping hitting “publish.”

    Liked by 1 person

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