I’m extremely appalled at the idea of seeing a group of strangers living in my childhood home. It just doesn’t feel right to me. This house that wreathed with memories was being invaded by a bunch of unknowns. I can’t even imagine the fact there’s someone else sleeping in my own bedroom. It feels like such a huge violation of my privacy. I’m very aware that the house is no longer mine, but its history is and there was no way I was going to let someone else replace it with theirs.
It was night time. Before heading to the airport, I walked to a nearby gas station and bought a euro-worth of gasoline. I made sure to wear a long black coat I found in one of the closets, and had also brought gardening gloves I found in Frieda’s garage as well as a pack of matches. I walked by the house and made sure that no one was home (I’ve been monitoring the neighbors and saw them leave the house an hour before I went along with my plan), so I sneaked inside the backyard and went in through the exterior kitchen door.
I couldn’t believe how different everything looked from the inside. Everything, absolutely everything, was different. The house lacked the warmth it had. The new owners had turned it into a modernist showpiece which I found to be absolutely distasteful. It looked plain and boring. No character whatsoever. The thing I missed most about home was the smell. It had a very distinctive smell that immediately connected me to past memories. I could almost lose myself in them just through it. That smell wasn’t there. I felt like a stranger in my own home. Then again, I was a stranger, so the feeling was the right one to have, but I couldn’t accept it. It just didn’t make sense to me that the house I lived in for nineteen years could easily pass through to somebody else and have a totally different identity. The house was my house. My home. Walking up the stairs, I could see how the walls covered family photos of the new owners. I checked the rooms that belonged to my parents and my sister first, leaving mine for last. They were all fully furnished almost identically with rich textures; cashmere paneled walls, geometric carpets, offset dark polished woods, monochrome accents. Typical crisp, clean, modern bedrooms that seemed a bit too harsh to me. When I finally checked mine and realized how it was turned into what I considered to be even worse than when my parents turned it into a dumping zone after I had left, I almost broke down and cried. The owners had converted my bedroom to an office. The room was completely renovated, even the floors. I paced around and looked everywhere for signs that this was indeed my room, but I couldn’t find any. Every inch of the house was completely transformed. If it wasn’t for the familiar exterior, and the location, I wouldn’t have guessed that it was once mine.
My brain suddenly turned blank as I grabbed the plastic container filled with gasoline from downstairs and walked downstairs to the basement. I sprinkled gas over the whole area and splashed a little bit on the walls too. I then walked back up and did the same around the first floor, hitting everything that’s furniture first. I also dribbled a little over personal belongings and family photos to add my personal vengeful touch. I went up to the bedrooms after that and did the same. To my shocking surprise, I noticed a cat lying on an ottoman in the masters bedroom the second time I entered it and made sure to grab it on the way out. I released it once I was outside in the backyard and sprinkled the remaining amount of gas as I walked out. I took a last look at the house then lit up a match and threw it inside. As I rushed back to Frieda’s house I could hear echoed screams of terror and agony of my mother, my father as well as my sister as if they were inside burning to death. That freaked me out so I ran away. I went back inside Frieda’s house, tip-toed my way to the second floor but was interrupted by her getting something from the fridge. I was halfway up the stairs when she rushed to the kitchen window and released an alarming scream. She started yelling my name and so I came back down the stairs, acting totally clueless. She pointed to the window and when I saw the fire, I gasped. She ran to the phone and dialed 112. The fire department was very responsive and arrived to the scene within five minutes.
Frieda put a cardigan on and rushed outside. I followed her. Firefighters didn’t let us get too close. I teared up and acted emotional to make my reaction to the horrible incident seem more believable. Frieda grabbed my arm and squeezed it as we both watched the firefighters battle the blaze; I felt like I was in control for the first time in a long time. The big inferno the fire had caused looked like a magical piece of art. I was in awe watching enormous flames rise up the roof, almost reaching the sky. Windows cracked and exploded releasing trapped flames. When the whole area was invaded with smoke, we were demanded to head back inside the house for our own safety. Once we headed back there, everything started to make actual sense: I finally realized that the reason behind what I did had nothing to do with the new owners, but with my own family. It was a way for me to bury the past and move on from it. In order for that to happen a part of me had to die. And this house — this house was part of me. Before I could walk up to my room, Frieda interrupted me; I turned and faced her, and I could immediately tell she was suspicious of me. Then she finally asked:
“Why are you wearing a coat? It’s sixty-four degrees outside.”