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The Burning Woman

September 2006

It was a regular January night. Freezing from head to toe I stood on the porch waiting for the dog to finish her business. When she finally started back toward the steps she let out a whimper and zipped through the door. I thought nothing of it thinking she'd stepped on a sharp piece of ice. But right as I was closing the door a strange figure passed at the edge of my view. I threw open the door but nothing was there. A cold gust of wind rushed past me and I hurried to shut the door because my toes were already freezing. Even with no one in the house but my dog in the kitchen, I felt someone looking at me. My neck felt hot, like someone was sticking two burning cigarettes right up to it. I turned around, grabbing an umbrella from the umbrella stand and holding it like a sword. Nothing was there. But I could still feel the presence. I rushed to the kitchen and phoned my mom to hurry home from the store trying not to sound too desperate. I turned around and my dog was lying on the floor paralyzed. A dim misty thing wavered in the air. A ghost was hovering in my kitchen. As I looked into it's eyes I felt burnt again. Like I was in Egypt naked under the scorching sun. I'd recently been studying Egypt so you can see why my thoughts went that way. The ghost laughed. I don't know why, but it did. I almost fainted from fright. But the laugh was pretty, in a ghostly scary strange way. Like it belonged to a woman. Then it stopped hovering and stepped on the ground. It was a she, or had been. She was stunning. I couldn't look at her long though, it hurt. Like a knife jamming around in my whole being. I think I'd seen her before. Somewhere sad. Like a cemetery for a funeral or perhaps someone close to her had died and I had known them. No! She was the lady who burned to death. I remembered. A few months ago. She had been cooking in her kitchen when some grease landed on the stove fire. It spread quickly. She couldn't escape. Her baby died too. It had been playing on the floor. I saw her picture on the news. But why was she here and what did she have against my dog? She stepped closer to me and whispered "need water, put out fire, baby scared." I stared at her helplessly, the pain in her eyes looked as though she was still burning. And it pained me to look. "I can't help," I whispered back. "sorry." My dog suddenly rose as if woken from a trance and started barking loudly. But the ghost was gone, probably looking for someone who would be more helpful.

I never saw her again but my insides still burn every time I think of her.

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