I laid her gently down on the rough straw mattress—placed her arms at her sides and closed her eyes. Seeing her like this, I could almost imagine that I was having another sleepless night; that I had woken to find her sleeping reassuringly by my side.
Moonlight streamed through the open window of our two-room cabin, the bright beam settling on my wife, illuminating her with a ghostly glow.
I had built the house and everything in it. The hearth that had kept us warm during the merciless winter. The table that we had sat around—sometimes we ate, other times we talked, and others still we just enjoyed each other’s presence. And the bed that she now lay lifeless upon. Here I had built a family and a future. I had built all that I could. Sometimes, the only thing left to build is a fire.
The kindling beneath the bed caught quickly. The flames flickered bright, but I knew they would soon be a pile of smoldering embers. I planted a final kiss on her cold forehead. I closed the door for the final time.
My plan had been to walk away, but with each step my resolve faltered. It would be selfish to abandon her just to spare myself the pain. She deserved more. Stopping at the crest of the hill, I looked down into the little valley where her pyre reached for the heavens. Fully committed, there was nothing to do but wait.
And wait I would, until the final flame had faded to dull ash.
Tears streaked by cheeks as I watched my life burn. My eyes were moths, drawn to the bright little cabin. It was full of love and hope and hate and heartbreak, and it was aflame.