Novel: How to Set a Fire and Why Author: Jesse Ball CA Theme: Substance Abuse and Impaired Driving
So it’s been a year since Lana and I burned the old man’s house down, and man do I still feel good. I still remember the beautiful way the room set fire, the feeling was so amazing but we obviously couldn’t stay to watch. You could say we covered up our tracks pretty well because nobody had suspected us. That turned out to be my first and only fire, because it was done for the right reason and I have no more good reasons to burn things. It was a rocky new beginning for us. Living out of Lana’s car was precarious to say the least, but we finally found a place living in the basement of some creepy guy and shitty part time jobs under new names.
Anyways, that’s where we’re at right now. It has been a bizarre change since leaving, but the thing that I stayed true to was who my aunt wanted me to be. I still act how I knew she would want me to as if she was watching over me. My mom on the other hand, who knows what’s happening at the looney shack.
Hey Lucia, there’s someone on the phone you might want to talk to, said Lana.
Who is it?
You’ll never guess.
Just tell me who it is. I walked over to pick up the phone and asked who was calling.
I couldn’t believe it, it was Jan. How did he find this number? Was he still in jail? I had so much to ask, but all I wanted to know is why. Why would he suddenly come looking for me again. I mean maybe he wanted to know about the fire, better to not say anything unless the bastard is working with the cops.
Lucia, I’m calling about your mom.
What about her? Why are you curious about my mom?
They let me out of jail after three months and I tried to find you. I thought your mom would be the only connection left to you. I didn’t know where to look, so occasionally I went and asked if you have visited.
So how is she? Is the woman still nuts?
She’s not crazy anymore. Well, just less crazy than she was apparently. She started remembering things about you and your dad.
I put the phone down, everything just hit me. My prediction was right. Maybe that stupid fish pond finally fixed her. I just need to know what she was saying: if she still knows what I looked like, the last thing she remembered about my dad.
There’s a lot that I still haven’t said about how my dad died and why my mom went all crazy. We used to be a normal family, we played games, talked and loved each other. We didn’t have much, but they still liked to go on dates and do crazy things together acting like they were still in high school. I loved the way they treated each other. My parents were each other’s best friend; they were real to each other and always kept each other in line. My mom would always call my dad a dumbass when he did something stupid and I would laugh and she’d smile back at me.
It was one night when I stayed at my aunt’s while my parents went out. They went to a bar to drink with friends they probably barely talked to. My dad would drive like he usually did, his old run-down car we barely afforded. I mean, seeing how little we had, I don’t know why they were blowing money at a bar. Besides the point, my dad had to drive home afterward. He wasn’t a heavy drinker, but he was still a moron for driving impaired. He drove right through an intersection and got t-boned on his side. My aunt got the news that they were both in the hospital and we had to go see them.
In short, my dad didn’t make it. I wish he could have at least realized how bad he fucked up. My mother was traumatized from the accident. She was badly hurt but was still conscious when it happened and had to watch my dad bleed out. It didn’t take long after until she started losing her mind. She started by talking to herself, then she didn’t talk at all. That’s when we had to send her away and that was that.
I think she just cracked not having my dad around anymore. My mom probably felt like she was at fault too, I mean she was. They were both stupid for getting in the car drunk. If at least someone had common sense at the time maybe, we wouldn’t even be here.
So that’s what happened to my parents. Back to what Jan said, he told me that my mom started asking questions one day. Nobody at the institution knew why, but she was asking where I was and what happened to my dad. Something finally got to her and she was getting very few pieces of her memory back.
Part of me wants to go back and support her, but I left for a reason and I would be mad at myself for going back.
Lana and I sat there thinking about what I should do. It was quiet for a minute.
Are we going back to see your mom?
I don’t want you to see her like that.
Why won’t you let me be there with you? We’ve been through everything together now.
It might not even be good to see her, maybe she’s getting better without me there now.
Yeah, but it’s your mother, it would be good for the both of you to get back together and figure your lives out with one another.
I can’t go back. I wouldn’t be proud of myself if I went back just to feel better about myself to see her getting better and possibly stop her from recovering. What if I’m the problem? Nothing is going to change if I go back. She’s still going to be the same person with nothing left inside her head. I just hope she remembers all the good about us before the accident.