Bright orange lines of the electric fire, and i am there again, pushing my paper torches between the grille on the front, watching the paper blacken and smoke and finally, flame. The man's voice speaks in my head

how old am i?

I'm three and a half. Nearly four. I wave the flames, laugh as the ash confetti dusts my hands and clothes, feel no fear of the heat and drop the torch into the hearth. Then i reach for another.

why am i doing this?

I'm looking at the fire, feeling the heat, watching it dance and seeing what it becomes. I'm almost there, i've almost got a handle on it, i nearly understand. A hand grasps my arm, a hand bigger than my head. Another takes the torch from the fingers, turns off the fire. I watch disappointed as the orange lines fade to black. He lifts me up and sits, placing me on his knee.

who?

Daddy. He looks at me gravely. Words, i could hurt myself, i could hurt other people. This is dangerous, this is foolish, i mustn't do this. Do i understand?

do i understand?

I understand that i am bad. He's disappointed in me. I am sad. More words, more kind, sad eyes. I have to learn, i have to remember. This is to make me remember. Do i understand? He turns me around on his knee.

do i understand this, too?

I understand this. I grasp one of his giant hands with both of mine and bend forward. The hand holding mine is warm and kind. I can see how sad he is. I am bad, to make people so unhappy.

i haven't changed

The other hand falls, fire in my bottom, impact makes me grip on the hand i hold, i look at his face as the hand falls again, still patient, still sad. The door bangs open, he looks up, she looks, screams at him, don't know those words, don't understand

she?

Mummy, she's pulling me away, she's slapping at him, i see only a blur, flapping, slapping hands. He hands me to her, ignores the slaps and the scratches turns and leaves the room.

both so young

I am crying, screaming, shocked, i don't understand, what did i do now? How did i make this happpen? She's shouting, shouting at me, shaking me, squeezing, pulls my head to her breast, darkness

can't see

and the words are all muffled and i still don't what i did, can't see, can't hear, can't understand

can't see

and then it's over and i'm on the floor cold stones where the fire was and it's darker now and she's gone and i'm alone and i want my daddy.

haven't changed at all

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