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No. 23 Lowvale Lane looks just as you remembered it to be. The grass

is still uncut, the rose bushes still unpruned and the gate is still

unlatched. Moonlight shines down over the dilapidated two storey

house in the middle of the property as you walk towards it. You push

open the door and step inside. The house has been empty for years

now, as most potential buyers steer clear of it, scared away by the vast

collection of rumoured murders, poltergeists and hauntings which

have ‘occurred’ over the years. Youwalk up the creaking stairs, trailing

your hands up the bannister and feeling the familiar bumps and

scratches left in the tarnished wooden beams, reminding you of the

years you spent here.

An uneasy feeling runs through your veins as you step into the

attic. The deathly silence pierces your ears, and the heavy musty air

of the room clouds your senses. Flashes of childhood memories

flood your vision; there was laughter here, days were spent exploring

this treasure trove, forts were built and wars were fought over who

was the rightful king of the attic. Now the attic is cluttered with

various articles of abandonment. Peeling wallpaper covers the walls;

and piles of furniture, books and antiques clutter the dusty floor. A

fine film of dust covers everything, the attic has been left untouched

all these years since you left, almost as if it has waiting for you;

patiently, unmoving and unchanging as the years have slowly passed

on. You reach into your pocket and take out a lighter. You have

thought about this moment for many years, you’ve toyed with the

idea, of ending it, of finally moving on. You flick open the lighter,

bend down, and light the closest thing in your path; a straw hat.

The flames lick away at the straw hat. Slowly they crawl, bit by bit

up its braided edges, twining around the raw fibres of the hat until

they engulf it whole. The hat burns for a moment, lighting up the

attic in its wavering warm light, chasing away the shadows into the

far corners of the room. It’s a bonfire of sorts, the beautiful calm

before the storm, the hungry flames reaching leisurely towards the

dark ceiling, producing tiny embers which jump and spread from

the straw hat to the other neglected pieces of furniture in the attic.

The aged, musty carpet catches fire next, followed by the tattered

armchair, and then soon the numerous piles of leather bound books.

The fire grows bigger, it gains strength as it burns, eager to consume

the antique objects in its hungry appetite and doing so, until it blazes

like a great flaming beast, the devoured bodies of its victims still

The Fire

Nina Guo

Isobelle Carmody Award

for Creative Writing

Overall Winner