“What are you doing?” asked the Sun.
“Setting things on fire,” the boy replied softly. He struck another match and threw it on top of the already flaming couch, smoke filled the air, but the room was not yet so thick with it that the boy could hardly breathe.
“Maybe you should come outside,” the Sun suggested.
“No, it’ll be dark soon.” He struck another match and threw into the face of a screaming child, all tired up in strings of wire, burning red with the heat of the fire. Flames licked up the white frilled and flowering curtains. For a moment the boy watched them climb, mesmerized by their beauty.
“So sublime,” he whispered.
The child continued to scream, tossing their head from side to side, trying to thrash away the fire.
“There is still time,” the sun said.
The boy raised a hand to the flames, but quickly withdrew it from the heat, his face contorting in fear. He suddenly threw back his head and laughed.
He ran out of the room, the child’s screams reaching such a pitch his ears started to ring. “Magic fire sings to the fates desire! Little children like to play, dance and brush the sand away!” his hand hooked around a gallon of gasoline and he emptied it into the room he’d just left. The fire caught at once, throwing forth a heat wave strong enough to momentarily knock the boy off his feet. The red gallon jug left his hand and toppled across the room, flames catching in its wake.
He stumbled to his feet and coughed, suddenly aware of the smoke in the air. With a hand over his mouth, he left the room, hunched over, aware of the heat on his back and legs. Sweat poured from his forehead, getting in his eyes, he brushed it away with his warm arm.
Outside the air was clean, and the wind suddenly felt very cool, cool enough to clear his head. He teetered to a stop, glancing over his shoulder at the burning wreckage. He was not sure, but he thought he might have heard the child still screaming inside.
“The golden river,” the Sun sighed.
“I wish it didn’t have to end,” the boy said, tears filling his eyes. “The swords were so beautiful.”
“I was lying,” giggled the Sun, “there is no time. It is already dark.”
“What?” breathed the boy. He turned about in a circled and found the Sun’s words to be true. Night had indeed fallen and the stars alive in the sky, laughing at him. Laughing!
“How could you do this?” the boy croaked. It might have been due to the smoke.
The Sun laughed, laughed with the Stars.
“You’re one of them,” the boy gasped, backing away, from whom or to where he did not know. “A RANGING BALL OF GASS AND FIRE!” he spun on his heel and fled, fled the laughing stars, the burning Sun.
“Someone call the fire department!”
“Oh my god! There are people in there!”
The boy’s legs gave way and fell to the asphalt, wet with rain, no sweat, he was wet! Ash on his cheeks, arms, his clothes signed and the Sun had lied to him.
“I can’t hear anything,” the boy panted. He realized he still had a box of matches in his hands. He lit one and put it in his mouth. A blossom of pain from his tongue for only a moment, but then the fire was gone.
“What’s wrong?” a smile voice irked his ears.
The boy turned, still crouched on the ground, match in his mouth, eyes brimmed with tears, face caked with ash, hair ragged and unwashed. It stood be for him. There it was, just staring at him.
“I’m not here to fight,” it said.
The boy shook his head.
Suddenly the stars were laughing, laughing louder than anything and there it was, just standing there.
He hunched over and heaved, vomiting onto his wet hands and asphalt.
“Sir,” someone said. Unimportant. “We’re going to have to ask you to come with us.”
The boy looked to the laughing stars, eyes rolled up so high, high into the dark, dark sky. “I’m just a little boy,” he said.
“That’s funny.” Something clicked. “You look like a grown man to me.”
The boy smiled. “Oh.”