by Tommy Dean
He’s been sitting in his car, the engine idling, for the last 30 minutes. He knows he’d better make a decision soon or someone will call the cops. Probably already have. Though it’s the middle of spring, the night is cool and he has to run the defroster to keep his breath from fogging up the windshield. He hesitates, because he can’t tell if anyone is home in the house across the street. There are no lights on and no cars in the driveway, except for a rusted out jeep jacked up on cinder blocks. He’d hate to be wrong. Hate to get anyone else involved.
He knew how easily it would burn. It isn’t the kind of building that could weather the heat and remain upright. The gasoline is in the car, the smell already cloying to the cheap fabric in the backseat of his Honda. He’s dizzy and his vision is blurred and the place looks almost like home again. The lilac on the side of the house is in bloom, the maple he swore was going to bend in half when the tornado came stands regally in the side yard, where the current owner’s trash hasn’t migrated yet. He could be 16 again. Dreams would still have a chance to come true. He opens the door and the car is filled with the fresh night air. The interior light comes on and the key-in-the-ignition warning dings. He pulls the lighter out of his jeans pocket. In the gentle breeze he thinks he can discern the light smell of lilac taking over, for just an instant, the heavy smell of gas. The lilac will be his only regret.