I am followed by fire.
It sounds really, really weird, I know, but it’s true. Every house, every apartment I’ve ever lived in has burned to the ground. Even stranger—it’s predictable. If I lived somewhere for six years, six years after I move out it goes up in flames. It’s not exact, but it's close, usually accurate to within two or three months.
It’s true. I’m not sure when I noticed the pattern for the first time, but it's always been there. When I was just a kid, right after I was born, my family lived in an old house behind my grandmother’s house. We were there until I was two, when we moved. I remember visiting my grandmother’s at four, watching the smoldering embers of the little house and the curling smoke rising into the air. Old wiring from the 50’s finally gave out.
From the shack, we moved to a farm. We weren’t well off enough to own it or anything, but we did run it for the local doctor. The farmhouse wasn’t that big, and most of my childhood memories come from the cozy, family setting it engendered. Here, I remember Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays. I think of it whenever I think of “back home.” We lived there from when I was two until I was nine, when the doctor we worked for died. At fifteen, it burned, an old tree struck by lightning sparking off the blaze.
The third house I lived in was the second to burn to the ground. We only lived there for around two years, so it happened when I was thirteen. It was an old house, a very old house. What I remember most was its shape. We called them “shotgun” houses, because you could fire a shotgun from one end and it would pass all the way through to the other. One room after another, all in a straight line, built as needed. It was, honestly, very old and dry. I’m not surprised that the heating stove in the front room sprung a leak on the tenants after us.
Other than where I’m at now, the only place left is my parent’s current house. When they asked me why I was moving all my stuff stored in the basement out, I didn’t have the heart to tell them, so I made up some excuse about having my old books and stuff closer to college. I didn’t know what else to say.
When I turned nineteen, I moved out of my parent’s house, and went to college. Before renting the house I live in now, I stayed in an apartment in the city. I shared it with a couple of assholes that seemed nice enough before I moved in. Everyone knows the type. Won't pay their bills on time. Eats whatever they can lay hands on. It got worse and worse until I made up my mind. When I'd finally had enough, I left. We were four months into a one year lease. Now I'm just keeping an eye on the news. Waiting for the sparks. A gas leak, a stray match… Sooner or later, they'll burn.
They always burn.