The Red Day

Red. My favorite color was red. As the red flames engulfed my childhood home, I could not stop thinking about my favorite things. There was the broken music box that played “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” in a cringeworthy key, every note flat– but only slightly. The chest full of crappy poems I wrote during my teenage angst phase. And worst of all, my very first guitar, Pif, crouched in a corner, littered in butterfly stickers. The red flames seemed to be waving goodbye. My mom, dad, and three siblings stood ironically frozen in place watching the flames. Standing in the dark of the night, our faces illuminated with red, my father was the first person bold enough to look at me. I could see the fire in his eyes. It was his eyes that said what everyone, including myself, knew. This is your fault.

Yes, I set my house on fire. It wasn’t on purpose or anything, but it happened. It was my fault. I robbed my parents of the first house they’d ever owned and my siblings of their childhood home. I, too, was losing a large part of my life, but it was my fault. My loss seemed invalid. I was the villain in this story. Night to night I’d find myself reliving the red day. I could see the firefighters in their clunky boots, my home scribbled in red Crayola. I swear I could feel the heat of the flames mixing with the fall breeze. And then I would wake up drenched in sweat, cower into a question mark, and wait for my eyes to feel comfortable closing.

Months flew by and the fire within me began to cease. I experienced metamorphosis. My loose and liquid childhood solidified into an element foreign to me: adulthood. My childhood ended when I let go of the self inflicted guilt. It ended when I learned to evolve beyond the guilt. I realized that the past wasn’t important. The past is just a story. A clumsy mistake should not be my definition. That is what I got out of the red day. I am more than a mistake. I am more than a default villain. I am more than the girl who burned down a house. I am human. I grow. I change. I evolve.

And now my favorite color is blue.

From the 826CHI Student Publication: A Record in Space

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