Burning things had always been weirdly therapeutic for him. I remember watching him destroy anything that remotely resembled a memento of his ex-girlfriend after a bad breakup. He acted like it was the most normal thing in the world, like making a fire pit for box after loaded box of random junk wasn’t a thing reserved for only the shittiest movie scripts or the most deranged ex-lovers. But then, maybe that was one of the first signs.
It was a strange experience every time, going upstairs and smelling a house fire. He had it under control, he’d say, before mumbling something arcane about the spirit of the flames. He had this whole setup to keep the fire in the center of his room from burning the house down, but every time I checked he seemed to have deconstructed it a little bit. Maybe I should’ve stopped him then.
There was the incident where a forest fire burnt down the entire west side of the hill at the edge of town. He maintained innocence, even had an alibi. And yet I couldn’t help notice the aura of bliss he gave off for some time following the event. That would’ve been the time to confront him, I think. The last chance to, at least.
A week later, while I was out of town, our house burned down. The likely culprit, nowhere to be found.