I came home from school, and my dad met me at the door. He handed me a black trash bag and told me to burn it before I came in. It was common for people where we lived to have a burn barrel.
I did what I was told, and burned it. I do not remember burning it. I know I did. It was routine. I usually struck matches and held it to a piece of plastic, cardboard, or paper til a blaze got started. Then, I waited for the fire reduce to smoke. I don’t remember how, or what it looked like. What it smelt like. If I heard anything abnormal. I just know I did it.
I remember setting my backpack on my bed and seeing my terrarium empty on my bookshelf.
I B-lined it to the living room. My dad was lounging on the couch.
He didn’t even glance away from his laptop.
“Why don’t you check the burn barrel?”
I did not cry. Not till later. Much later. Years later.
I think, I knew she was in the bag. Somehow. I knew. That makes me cry. Why didn’t I save her?
A photo I took of our backyard when I was sixteen.