Anatomy of a House Fire by Stella Lei

  1. Kitchen: Gas on the stove. Grease in the air. The pop-pop-pop of heat shriveling paper towels and dishcloths, fabric wilting into itself like a flower in reverse.
  2. Dining room: Smoke swelling like a storm. Placemats melting into table—saving spots for ghosts—checkered squares bleeding into particle board grain.
  3. Living room: Sofa cushions sparking. Mantle photographs—lips pursed before candles and cake, dimples, gapped teeth—burning like flash paper, each soot-smeared face a burst of gold.
  4. Closet: Twin coats tangled in embrace. Size small tucked inside large.
  5. Study: Patents. Novels. Comics. Superman flaking into ash, It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s—
  6. Hallway: A mother running, feet tangled in the carpet’s plush. A mother crawling with her head below smoke. A mother.
  7. Bedroom door: Fists blazing. Skin cracking against wood. Nails scratching against knob. A cry. A shout. Wake up. Please.  

 

Stella Lei’s work is published or forthcoming in Gone Lawn, Milk Candy ReviewWhale Road Review, and elsewhere. She is an Editor in Chief for The Augment Review, she has two cats, and she tweets @stellalei04.

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