Burning Innocence

As if watching her mother make the cake wasn't enough, she wanted more. True—her mother let her lick the spoon, stir the frosting, and stick the candles in, but being only four, Tabitha knew it wasn't enough. The baby blue cake was for her little brother. He was turning three tomorrow, and he'll get to blow out three candles. Tabitha, however, felt obligated to light the candles for him to blow.

The problem was, she just couldn't wait.

Laying in bed, she stared at her ceiling, trying to hear any footsteps that could be just outside her door. There wasn't any though, because her mommy and daddy were still asleep.

Carefully she slid out of bed and padded down the quiet hallway. At the top of the staircase, she stared down at the dim living room beyond. The sun was beginning to rise, so she knew she had to light the candles soon.

Tabitha took each enormous step one at a time until she was standing in the small living room. Quietly she rounded a corner and felt cold kitchen tile under her toes. It wasn't much of a shock, considering her memories on how warm a candle is.

Quietly she moved as tool towards the cupboards where she knew her mommy kept the matches. It was an easy reach, something her daddy forgot to put away from last night's use.

Tabitha slid them off the counter and pulled out a match. She opened the refrigerator and beheld the magnificent cake high up in the fridge, its twisty candles waiting to be lit.

Recalling from her memories, she struck the match across the box and it roared into a small, steady flame.

For a few brief moments, Tabitha in her small nightgown and pigtails, the world seemed to move slowly. She watched the flame eat at the wooden stick until it began to near her tiny hand. She gasped, and it fell.

The fire caught on the garbage can and cupboard, even some of the beautiful linoleum flooring. Fire alarms suddenly burst into loud wailing squawks. It scared Tabitha into running out of the room and into the living room.

Her parents were down in a flash, yelling and grabbing the sink's spray hose. The fire was doused, but their surprise and anger wasn't.