How It Happens To People – Short Story

How It Happens To People Artwork - water and fire

Here is this week’s short story, “How It Happens To People”. If you like my fiction, please check out my fiction collection, Crushes, available on Amazon in Print and on Amazon Kindle.

How It Happens To People

I didn’t believe him. I should have. If I had, I wouldn’t be here outside the house, fire hissing through the cracks in the front windows, the smell of burnt salt and birchwood choking me whether I breathe out of my mouth or not. The firemen were hosing down the house, drenching what used to be one of my favorite places in the floaties of the local water supply that we all got good grades to escape. It was Jeff who was the most paranoid when we made it out to UC, always checking his glass for metals and speckles. It’s the city life for us. It wasn’t like him to look back. Why then he decided to use this old house to store his excess instead of a temperature controlled storage building, I’ll never understand. I remember Mom complaining that gas was over a dollar growing up. It took a full tank to get out here.

It hit me while I was watching the blaze. What I would give to get in there and pick out a few of his pieces before the intricate carvings of paraffin are all melted into one collective pool. I knew it hadn’t happened yet. The tall fireman glanced over at me from time to time, putting his thumb in front of his eyes, turning his head sideways. I know better than to go in. Besides, it’s all connected, everything goes back, everything ends how it starts, and all that shit Jeff would say. It would be true of the candles, if it wasn’t already.

Little explosions inside caused the firemen to jump back quickly. They asked me if I knew what was in there when they arrived. I told them I was, or I would be. Pumpkin carving tools were all that was left when it was done. I took the keyhole saw as a souvenir and took a picture with my phone to give the accountant. Until the floaties inside us drip into a puddle, brother.

Works Cited: Title is inspired by a line in Secret Window (2014), a film based on a book by Stephen King.

By Eric Shay Howard

Eric Shay Howard lives in Indianapolis. He's a teacher, a literary editor, and writer. He's a graduate student in the Bluegrass Writers Studio MFA in Creative Writing program at Eastern Kentucky University. He also has MBA and BA degrees.

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