Ashes in Winter

[WP] All your life you’ve been told that fire will burn and hurt you. Imagine your surprise when you walk out of a house fire unscathed.

His eyes squeeze tighter and his eyebrows wrinkle at the increasing discomfort. He had drawn his body up into a ball but continues to brush at his check and ear because of an infrequent annoyance. His breath is visible with each exhale, yet he continues to sleep–to dream. As a child, his adopted parents always warned him about the dangers of fire. A fact they were so vehement about that they beat him during the few occasions they caught him getting too close. The torment eventually spilled into his dreams and continues to haunt him even after his parents are dead and gone.

His eyes shoot open as he experiences a fall sensation. He lands on the curve of his back then rolls through smoldering ash. He squeezes his eyes shut until the pain abates enough for him to notice his shiver. He looks out from the floor to see the snow fall, then sits up and crosses his arms for warmth. It doesn’t escape him that he’s now naked but he’s more concerned about the entire house having burned down around him, while he slept through it.

He moves a partial bed post with his foot as he looks over the still smoldering place in the floor. Another darkened area on the floor used to be storage for clean clothes but that’s no longer the case. Snow continues to fall around him, melting initially but slowly starting to cling to more of the fire’s debris. He looks around at the vast open fields that stretch away from him, in all directions. “Great,” he says as he rubs vigorously at his arms. “Turns out, my fear of fire doesn’t matter but knowing that doesn’t matter either considering I’m now going to freeze to death.”