My mother never saw it coming. She thought she could keep it behind the door with the lock on the outside. But this time, when I got off the bus, I played the quiet game instead.
She was listening to music in the kitchen, her hands all soapy in the sink. The radio was on but I didn’t know the song. All I know is his voice made me think of the gravel rocks in the driveway leading to the garage.
One time, my mother let me eat dinner with her on the couch. We ate with forks and spoons because the drawer with the knives in it was locked too. The lady on the news wore a bright pink jacket with the flaps turned back. She talked about a house on fire and showed us a video of the firefighters with big hoses trying to put it out. Orange is my favorite color. Did you know that?
When I peeked around, all I could see was her back. Her shirt was tucked into her skirt and she had work shoes on; the ones with the pointy bottoms. She listened to that man on the radio while I played the quiet game. I didn’t want her to see me sneaking.
She never saw it coming. Not the slick-smelling liquid that grew like a puddle under her pointy shoes. She didn’t see me holding the match.
Written By Moira King