The old schoolhouse sat amongst the weeds like an old derelict car. It leaned to the side as if it were trying to hear just one more echo of kids playing in the small patch of dirt to the side.
Jacob stood in the shade of the building, his eyes unfocused as he replayed the memories on a loop in his mind. It was almost as if he’d transported himself back in time. He saw the kids having fun. Without him. He heard the taunts, the teasing over his ragged clothing, his crooked glasses.
His fist clenched around the hard plastic handle of the gas can, his lips moving without making a sound as he talked to himself. He heard his name being shouted and blinked, looking around for the source.
“Jacob!” He heard it again. Someone was here. He looked down at the now empty gas can, the smell wafting up from the dried grasses surrounding the school he’d planned to purge from the earth. “Jacob! Didn’t you hear me?”
He turned, feeling numb and a little confused as he was yanked back to the present day. “Whaddya want?” He mumbled as he turned towards the voice that had dared to interrupt his ritual.
“My dog got loose, Jacob. Have you seen it?”
Jacob tried not to react. He shook his head ‘no,’ but his eyes flicked to the old schoolhouse. He’d propped the doors shut so that the dog couldn’t get out, but now the damn mutt was barking and yelping at the sound of his owner’s voice.
“Oh! I hear him! Thanks Jacob!” The little boy ran over to the old rickety door and pushed. “I can’t get the door unstuck! Jacob, help me!”
Jacob felt the blood pumping through his veins. His palms felt clammy and he could feel the sweat beading up on his forehead. He wanted to do bad things again. He swallowed hard and took a step towards the old building. “I’m coming, Joe. Hold onto your britches.” This boy was just like his brother. Optimistic to the point of ignoring reality. Jacob felt his fists clench just thinking of Samuel.
Walking up, he pulled at the top of the door, allowing it to open just far enough for the boy to grab his pet.
The urge was too great. Jacob took his boot and pushed the boy inside, slamming the door shut and jamming the rock back up against the outside again.
“Jacob! I fell inside! Help me!” The boy didn’t sound scared. Not yet. He had no idea. He was just as dumb as Samuel.
He stepped backwards, walking down the worn wooden steps as he listened to the boy’s cries. A slow smile spread across Jacob’s face as he heard the panic start to creep into the boy’s voice.
Reaching into the pocket of his flannel shirt, he pulled out the lighter.
“Just a minute, Joe. I’m going to get something to open the door.” Jacob took another step back, ‘No reason I can’t give him a little hope…’ he thought.
He touched the lighter to the edge of the grass, watching as the flame danced around the dry blade until it caught. When the fire started, it burst over the fuel soaked weeds. Jacob jumped back so fast he almost fell.
The smoke filled his nostrils as he stood to his feet, his eyes burning as he watched the flames racing towards the old schoolhouse.
He knew the moment that Joe realized there was a fire. The high pitched keening wail filled him with such a deep satisfaction. The boy was nothing. He’d been spoiled anyway. He’d gotten everything he ever wanted. Just like Samuel.
He turned away, the lighter slipping back into his pocket as he headed for home. The screaming boy, the barking dog would feed his dreams for weeks. He walked the two miles home, his barefeet scraping the dirt road, a huge smile plastered across his face.
You can read more shorts on Jacob & Samuel:
I am so excited to tell you that I *finally* got through the publishing process (and I have so much more respect for everyone else who does this often!)
The ebook is