There was a part of him that always wondered if he really had done it on purpose. Maybe he had wanted this, maybe there was a side of him that had smiled at the smell of the smoke and loved the warmth of fire and the texture of the ash. Maybe he’d done it and hadn’t even realized it.

He should have caught it. An open flame like that, spurting blue, should have stood out as he went out for lunch, locked the classroom behind him. He should have smelt the chemical tinge on the air.

But he didn’t. He went out, sat down, and ate a hamburger while the fire started.

The police didn’t quite believe his story. The prosecution didn’t either. They threw out witnesses who described him as “a rubber band waiting to snap” and the credit card statements for trips to the therapist. A man in a suit explained so clearly that he’d started the fire that he was beginning to believe it himself.

Perhaps I did it, he thought as the jury came out to condemn him. Perhaps I’m guilty, just like they say. 

That might make this easier. 

Word Count: 194

This is for Sunday Photo Fiction!

10 thoughts on “Guilty

Add yours

  1. The question is, did he really do it on purpose? If we are told something enough we start to believe it. Maybe that’s what’s happening there. He may not have realised. Unless someone else has a key and started it ….


  2. So sad. A moment not thinking, gets him characterized as an arsonist. If you were a high school or university chemistry teacher, you’d know why he needed therapy. He needed better lawyers. And it’s heartbreaking, he can only reconcile his situation by believing what’s false, like they are convincing the teacher himself, that he did it on purpose. I hope he gets better Lawyers and a chance to turn this over, in Canada I’d say take it before the Supreme Court! Great write, you really feel for him.

    Liked by 1 person

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