The Burning of Blueberry Hill

“There’s no place like home.” L. Frank Baum

You can always go home

Some days I want to watch it all burn

Death brings many changes. Most of them aren’t anything I find pleasant.  She went home to join my Papa.  They are no longer at home on Blueberry Hill.  The house on Blueberry Hill was the only home I had left.  My parents divorced when I was an adult. My home was sold. Some years later my father sold his cabin so my grandparents’ home was the only home I had left.

Anytime I’ve dreamed of home in my adulthood I’m at my grandparents’ house.  Sometimes I dream of the home that I lived in with my parents and siblings.  These aren’t good dreams. I am scared. The house is in ruin and I am hiding inside. I run out the back door and head up Blueberry Hill to my grandparents’ home since it’s next door.  Papa is outside doing yard work. He was a fanatic when it came to the lawn.  My Granny is inside cooking the best food I’ve ever tasted. I wake up crying because they aren’t there anymore.  They are just across the road and over the railroad tracks underneath an old oak tree.

I was lucky to have lived next door to my grandparents and my great grandparents. I spent a lot of time at those two houses.  My great grandparents’ home sold some years ago after their deaths. I remember how their old house started to look run down. It was sad to watch it go downhill. I was always taught to take care of my things. I just couldn’t fathom someone not taking pride in their home. I tried to ignore it as best I could. Life went on.

I got older and moved out. I lived in the city for a few years.  I came home when my parents split up.  I moved back in my home and lived there for a few months with my sisters and my father. It was nice being home again. It was much different the second time around. There weren’t any rules. We were all adults. I worked a lot so I wasn’t there much. We moved out in early spring. My mom moved back into the house with my youngest sister. I rushed into a marriage, my dad went to the cabin and my middle sister went to another town.

Years later when my son was a baby my mother decided to sell the house. I wanted so desperately to buy that home but it wasn’t in the cards for me. I was devastated. I grieved when I went to collect my things from the attic. It was surreal standing in that empty house.  The emotion was unbearable. All those years we spent there rushed my mind. I cried as I left the driveway for the last time.  I had so much anger built up over the house selling that I wanted to take a bulldozer to it. It was a long-running joke between my dad and I that we should have just burned the son of a bitch down or knocked it over. We always got a good laugh out of it.

Years passed and my old home started changing. I wasn’t pleased. It wasn’t well-kept anymore.  It was painful to watch it change. I was bitter as hell. I tried to ignore it. It was sort of hard to since it was next door to my grandparents’ house.  I was glad the new owner installed a huge privacy fence around it so I couldn’t see it anymore. My imagination ran wild when I thought about my old house. I worried about what it looked like. I knew I shouldn’t care because we didn’t live there anymore.  I let it go for a while.

Things changed over the course of the next several years.  My grandfather fell ill again with cancer. He fought long and hard and left us on a sunny Tuesday in September. It hurt for a very long time and still does. A year after his death I had another baby boy.  He helped to restore the balance. Things were good for a while. Granny coped the best she could. I was blessed to still have her in my life. She adored my boys. One day she got sick and things started to unravel. She was never the same after having surgery for heart blockages. She would have more and more health problems. Eventually her body got tired and her heart just gave out in the wee hours of a Saturday morning in June.

I was lost. I couldn’t come back from this. How in the hell am I going to move on without them? I was happy that Granny and Papa were together again. I still missed them and wanted them back. The next few months I changed my entire life. I had to. I was miserable and couldn’t continue that way. I got stronger and I coped. I was happy. I started to enjoy life. I spent more time doing things outdoors. I mended fences with people. I was better. Then everything came crashing down around me. My grandparents’ house was empty and for sale.

I was crumbling just thinking about the house being sold. I had a few drinks to calm my nerves. All the memories I had left were in that house. I was a wreck. I cried for hours. I kept drinking in hopes I would calm down. I thought back to how painful it was when my old house sold. Every single emotion came over me. I was in a rage now. It became clear to me what I must do. Blueberry Hill must burn to the ground. I couldn’t let the same thing happen again. I had to burn it down.

The next morning I woke up with swollen eyes and a headache. I’d hoped I would have different feelings about Blueberry Hill after I slept on it. I’m a rational person. I also obey they law. Apparently some crazy person had taken over my mind. I still wanted to set the place on fire and not give anyone the satisfaction of soiling my memories or that house. I’ve lost my mind and I’m not going back. I knew it wouldn’t be an easy task. How in the hell am I going to torch a house and make it look like an accident? I guess I need to learn without raising suspicions.

I went to the library and went old school with books. I didn’t dare use a computer. I didn’t check out books either. I read what I needed and kept the information under my hat. I was scared but I had to go through with it. I knew every inch of that property. I knew I’d have to get in quick and get out. I would have to hide in the woods until it was safe to make my escape. I couldn’t make any mistakes. I’m not made for jail. Arson would land me in prison. I had kids to raise. What the hell is wrong with me? This is so risky but I was driven to see it through to the end.

That Saturday was like a hundred other Saturdays before. My boys left for the weekend. I hugged them extra tight and told them to have fun. I got plenty of rest that day. I got up as it started to get dark. In the winter time it was pitch black by 5pm. I ate lightly because my stomach felt queasy.  I dressed in all black. I didn’t wear anything loose. I didn’t want to burn myself. I pulled my hair back and wore a black toboggan on my head. I brought gloves. I had a change of regular clothes in the trunk of my car along with my purse.  It was time to go.

I made the long drive to the house.  I parked my car in a wooded area back behind the property. It was far enough away from everything that it wouldn’t be spotted.  I came up the backside of Blueberry Hill. It was 11pm and still. There wasn’t a soul around. I crept up the hill and made my way through the back yard. I picked the back door open and went inside. Never in my thirty-eight years had I seen this house empty. I started to cry and I hit the kitchen floor. This house meant everything to me and I was about to burn it to the ground. What the hell is wrong with me? I can’t stand to see it mistreated and all my memories stolen. I have to be in control of this situation.

 I walked through the house and went room to room. I felt Granny and Papa holding my hands. All the joy and laughter, the pain and heartache was there. The good times hurt the worst. I couldn’t touch any part of the house or yard with out it having an overwhelming memory. I smiled through my tears. I knew I’d be haunted forever if I didn’t burn this house and put these memories to rest. This was the house my dad grew up in. Lucky for me it needed some electrical work. I went to the breaker box and took a look. I flipped off the kitchen breaker and got to work. I pulled out the dishwasher from the counter and cut the hot wire. I wired it back together the wrong way. I put it back in the wall and put my tools back in my pockets.

The dishwasher was back in place. I sure hope this works. It took me a while to memorize the wiring diagram for it. It had been recalled a few times. I made my way back to the fuse box and flipped the breaker back on. I had left the dishwasher on the drying cycle.  Sparks started flying from the dishwasher. I heard fuses starting blowing. The smell was awful. Then it happened. The insulation around the dishwasher caught fire. It started to go up the wall. I watched it dance up the wall and to the ceiling. Damn I need to get out of here. I turned to go for the backdoor and I tripped over my feet.

 I was dazed for a moment and quickly realized I had to get the hell out now. The fire had spread to the living room and I totally forgot about the natural gas. I got myself up and to the door.  I fell down the back steps after shutting the door. I crawled down the porch and pulled myself up against the outer wall of the house. My ankle was sprained. I had to get moving because I wasn’t in the clear. I hobbled through the yard as fast as I could. My ankle was killing me but I wasn’t going to get caught. I could not get caught. I got to the end of the back yard and started to go down the hill to the field. I turned around to look at the house. Most of it was on fire. It was bright. I smiled and kept moving.

 I got to the woods just over the property line when I heard the explosion. I turned my head in time to see the house light up the night sky as it blew into thousands of tiny pieces. Holy Shit I just blew up Blueberry Hill. I wanted to burn it to the ground not blow it sky-high. Damn I screwed this up pretty good. I was going to climb a tree and watch it go. Hell there wasn’t anything left standing.  It was just a burning pile where a house once stood. I have to get the hell out of here now. I made my way through the woods. I got to the car about the time I heard sirens. I opened the trunk and changed my clothes. I sprayed myself down with body spray. I used dry spray shampoo on my hair so I wouldn’t smell like an arsonist. I hid my black clothes under the spare tire.

I got in the car and drove out of the woods. Lucky for me there wasn’t anyone living in the house on what was left of the road to the woods. I turned my lights on and got on the road going the opposite direction of Blueberry Hill. I cut through the country and stayed off the main road. I was nervous. I drove the speed limit and tried not to worry. I wasn’t sad that the house was gone. I felt like I’d done the right thing. I finally made it home unnoticed. I got my fire starting clothes out and threw them in the washer. I jumped in the shower and quickly got rid of any smell of lingering smoke. I put on my pajamas and hopped into bed. I turned on the TV to watch a movie. I was relaxed and at peace.

 I dozed off to sleep at some point. I woke up to the phone ringing. It was my dad calling me at 6am. Something was wrong. He never called at 6am. Then I remembered I blew his parents’ house up in the night, no big deal. I answered the phone still half asleep. He told me that Granny and Papa’s house had burned down in the night. I knew he was upset. I was upset. I told him I was glad everything was out of the house. He told me it started in the kitchen and that the fire chief thought it was old wiring and an overloaded fuse box.  I felt terrible because he was upset. It was too late the damage was done.

 That afternoon we all met on Blueberry Hill. There wasn’t much of the house left at all. The gas explosion took care of that. I looked around and I felt nothing. I wasn’t sad. There was no more house to have a hold on me. My memories were not imprisoned inside that house anymore. They were free. It was bitter-sweet for my family I suppose. The house was empty and up for sale. Everything my grandparents owned was already gone. I felt bad for them because they would never be able to drive by the house and take a trip down memory lane. I was relieved it was over. I was no longer a prisoner of Blueberry Hill. I left Blueberry Hill and never gave it another thought. I took my memories with me. I was free.


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