She felt alone. The old room gave her two distinctly opposing feelings: comfort and a hollow heart.
The windows were tainted with streaks from rain and a poor paint job, the aged wooden floor covered in remnants of hay, dirt, and wood. Miscellaneous items surrounded her: a neon orange sled to her left, a plastic trash bin to her right, and an old blue chair directly in front of her. A tiny, gaudy Christmas tree draped over old pieces of her home: shutters not up to par, old wooden siding that had been long replaced by a much more durable substance; a broken motorcycle part over here, a child’s play chest over there. Items now declared obsolete. Though the younger items were few, it seemed to her as though her entire childhood could be summed up by a stranger with one glance into the quiet, creaky attic-like space.
Rain hit the roof of the old building and it reminded her of a tiny mouse army with all the little mice running around in their royal blue uniforms, carrying toothpicks and safety pins in preparation to fight against their sworn enemies.
It must be interesting to be a mouse, she thought. Perhaps there is a mouse out there thinking the same, but about her.
She closed her eyes and thought about her life: friends, family, relationships. She thought about religion; she thought about ‘God’. She had been told many times by the people around her that a life without God is not a life at all. She needed to find religion to find happiness. She needed to find religion to save herself from being ‘damned’.
Hell- quite the concept, she thought. Seems so serious when they say it, why does it sound so bland when I say it?
“Hell,” she said out loud. Nothing special.
The mouse war pounded heavily now, the climax of the battle approached as she swayed her head back and forth to the music filling her head. No particular arrangement just notes and hums here and there. It played to the sound of the wind against the windows every so often and she stopped her swaying to wrap her arms around her legs and hug them closely to her chest and chin.
She closed her eyes and her lashes swept against her wrist. But as soon as she closed her eyes, they flew open to the tiniest sound on the miniature door hidden behind a motorcycle seat and handlebar set. She lifted her head cautiously and allowed her eyes to flit around the door frame. It was not a knock, but rather a bump, as though someone accidently let his or her elbow slip against a picture and it bounced lightly on the wall.
She parted her lips to call out but thought better of it; no one could be there, the door led to the crawl space between the wall and its exterior counterpart. As she stared at the door her caution ebbed away and the space filled with gentle curiosity. She cocked her head and out from the keyhole fluttered a butterfly.
Lovely, she thought and smiled. The butterfly swung around the small space and grazed under her forearm. She crinkled her nose in silly fascination as it brushed her shoulder and landed on the doorknob to the miniature door. As she began to turn, she saw out of the corner of her eye a spark from the door; she turned back and watched, astonished and terrified at the same time, as the butterfly’s wings ignited and hissed. The flames crawled up towards its tiny body leaving a trail of warped, white-gray wings. The smell snaked its way to her while she stood frozen in place. She could not bring herself to move to cover her nose, but instead tilted her head towards her feet and felt her face drain of blood at the sight of her shoes. They were bright orange laced with yellow flames.
She let out a scream as the flames quicken their pace up her legs. Pain shot through her like a thousand skewers, burning into her bones. As the flames reached the metal on her belt, the pain she thought could never possibly be worst heightened to a level so intense she would faint. But she could not move, she could not even close her eyes; she stood like a witch tied to a stake on a pit of fire. She shrieked once more but she knew that no one would hear her. Her eyelids finally closed, lashes singed away. As the pain became so intense she could no longer feel it, though she could not feel calm, the memories of all the terrible things she had caused in her life time played in her mind. Even the things she had not done but had imagined doing caused her to feel a deep, searing guilt. When she lifted her eyes open once more she turned her cheek into her pillow.
She let out a breath but threw her legs over the side of her bed and retched onto the floor. An icy finger traced its way down her spine lighting up all her nerves, and she found the chills ironic.
Only a dream, she thought to herself. But for some reason, this notion could not bring her comfort- she smelled something which made a lump appear in her throat. She clung to her bed sheets and felt something small brushing up against her fingertips. Glancing down, she could not help but let out a small cry. Scattered over the sheets were ashes and parts of singed eyelashes.
She sat on the edge of her bed, bile seeping into the cracks of the floor, chills running down her spine, sheets covered with small pieces of hair and ash; here, she felt very much alone.