Title: The House of Ashes
Characters/Pairings: Young Firefly and his mom.
Word Count: 495
Warnings: None that I can think of.
Summary: When Garfield Lynns' house burned down, he didn't let it destroy him.
For little Garfield Lynns, the day the house caught fire was a learning experience. He cried the same as his Momma when the firemen brought a handful of photos, including a scorched one of his Daddy in his full Air Force best, and said that was all they could find. The carefully folded flag and his father's medal for bravery in the line of fire were ashes.
The fire beat him down then, and he thought it was cause he didn't respect it. Some kids would have shied away from fire and been traumatized. Garfield wasn't like that. When something bested him, he had to learn all about it. When Momma decided it was best for them to move into one of the extended stay hotels across town, Garfield still biked down to the ashes of his old home after school. He sat on the slab of concrete that used to be his driveway in front of the bushes, hug his knees to his chest, and smell the ashes in the air. He thought about the terrific heat he'd felt as his Momma had dragged him from his bed, her screams mingling with the crackle-pop of the wood-eating flames. His eyeballs felt roasted afterwards, and his face stayed warm for hours.
The hotel was supposed to be a short-term deal, but people have a way of letting misery settle things for them. As Garfield's poor Momma came home later and later and slept more and more, he started learning to fend for the both of them. He taught himself to make simple things, like macaroni and cheese and canned soup, and brought her meals if she was in bed or left food in the fridge with a note if she wasn't. One day he tried heating up an old taco in the microwave and the aluminum foil wrapper caught fire. Some kids would be paranoid after surviving a house fire and losing everything, but Garfield just watched it like the fire couldn't hurt him. He let it burn itself out and ate what he could.
Spring came, and with it the standardized tests; for the first time in months, Garfield just didn't have time to go look at his dead house. All the while he had a strange feeling. It had started when he'd noticed a few spikes of green grass peeking from the ashes. He'd yanked them out, of course, and burned them in the old driveway. This time though, he expected to find a lot more grass to burn. What he hadn't expected to see were men stomping around the area, the ashes long gone, and a bulldozer out front. The men were talking about what a great spot they'd found for the house and how wonderful everything was going to be. Garfield hid in the bushes, by the old concrete slab that would become a new driveway for another family, and turned the book of matches in his pocket over and over.