Ground Zero

It was a breezy Spring day in Mississippi and the fall leaves formed a crunchy blanket atop everything. We had been shooting rockets for a while and were down to the day’s last war shot. Without my realizing it, the vigor of the previous effort had softened the base of the launch rod. When we lit our last missile the rod failed, fell over, and loosed the thing parallel to the ground and into the woods.

Alas, our farm is an otherwise uninhabited space so all involved simply thought it comical as our hefty rocket careened off into the wilderness. We gathered up our gear and headed inside. Before my wife retired she thought she heard something crackling.

By the time we got to the point of conflagration the fire was already maybe 30 meters across. My family and I took up shovels and buckets and began beating back the flames like people possessed. Two hours later roughly four acres of our farm had been incinerated. We were all of us baked, utterly exhausted and reeking of smoke. My wife and kids were inexplicably short with me. As we finally made our way back home for food, water and showers, one son was overheard muttering to the other, “I’m leaving this crazy place forever, and I’m never coming back. Are you with me?” Such is the sordid lot of the pyromaniac’s child.

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