I hate Phillip because he left me.
A cold wind tore through my thick, black cloak, sending a shiver along my spine. I let it worm its way into my heart, hoping it would kill the last remnants of love between us.
Though the flames were too far to warm me, a gust of air brought the stench of burning flesh. My hand shot up to cover my mouth.
“Does it hurt them?” Phillip’s oldest son asked.
He stood next to me. His jacket wrapped tight around his tall, thin frame. He tossed his head back to clear the dark lock that drooped over his eyes.
“Of course it does. Can’t you hear their screams?”
His smooth brow furrowed, then he said, “I thought that were the sirens.”
“They deserved it,” I said.
Phillip’s son choked on something. I moved to place my arm around his shoulder, but then stopped when I realized he was laughing.
“He deserved it,” he finally said. “But the kids and my mother–”
“I’m your mother. Do not doubt she stole you. He stole you.”
He shrugged. I resisted the urge to pinch his ear, and instead watched the burning house.
“We’ll never know now.”
His voice sounded small and far away, though he still stood next to me. Phillip’s hand groped towards mine and I latched onto his, noting that the son had his father’s short, stubby fingers.
I turned it over, facing his palm up and danced my fingertips across his lifeline. Minuscule flames licked at my hand, but stayed on Phillip’s outstretched palm.
“It doesn’t hurt!” he said, moving his hand gently through the air as the ball of flames expanded.
“Of course not. It is what fuels us, my son.”
He barked a laugh, already his family forgotten.
I wish I could forget so easily.
The sirens now drowned out the screams. As he stared into the flames on his palm, a nervous look played across his face. The resemblance to his father was so great, I had to look away lest I forget this Phillip was my son and not the other that had betrayed me.
Phillip tasted his lips, then said, “They’ll come for us. Try to string us up like witches and burn us instead. Cheeky bastards.”
I smiled, knowing I would not come to hate this Phillip as I had the last.