Saturday. In the evening she stood on the porch and surveyed the mud, and it seemed to be congealing a bit. Off to the north side of the drive was a low lying field that sloped down to the tree line that ran along the creek. All of this bowl was filled with mist, and all through the mist hung thousands of fireflies caught in the web of water and air. They twinkled like Christmas, and the bullfrogs and crickets chattered and spoke.
All her boxes were stacked, taped and labeled in the front room, lumpy towers of cardboard and whisky labels. All her art lay leaning against the front wall in a disarray of frames. The vacuum sweeper, the broom, the bucket. A suitcase, a small pile of clothes on hangers draped over the tallest tower. The microwave was temporarily plugged in to the outlet by the gas log fireplace, and she had eaten something from it an hour ago, without tasting it. She hadn’t started to load up. It was just all too much.
The kitchen screen door squeaked and banged shut behind her as she went out back to ponder the refuse lined along the wall, rusting quietly within the embrace of the weeds and the spiders. It was the stuff that didn’t need to be thrown away, nor stored, but was still important enough to keep within view. Solvents mostly. Paint, paint thinner, left-over polyurethane. Several used air-con filters, some scrap pine.
She was picking each container up, hefting it, moving to the next and doing the same, the light fading making it harder to read the labels, so she flicked her bic lighter for the last couple, the air silvery and flammable. Then she unscrewed first one, then the next, and the next, and began layering them one on one, all along the back wall, first pouring out this, and then the next thing, carefully pouring a continuous line, and then, standing off to the side all awkward and jumpy, she reached in and lit the edge of the solvent milkshake. The results were an immediate whump and puff of blue flame and crackles and all of a sudden she was loading her stuff out the front door like she was the American Team for Packing Up And Leaving Quick and she was in the running for the Gold Medal. The flames towered over the rear roofline and grinned down at her and she threw the last unpacked drape of curtains on top of her boxes, unrolled a gleaming white middle finger, and gunned the truck straight in and out of the bog, bouncing and fishtailing up onto the hardtop, where she floored it and fled. The lovely flames yawned, cackled and spread, leveling everything, and they eventually died, sadly, from neglect.