He saw it on a TV documentary years ago, when he was little, maybe six or seven. But he remembered it, the blackened walls, the charred wingback chair, and just in front, the empty shoes.
He’d been amazed and liked the sound of it: “spontaneous combustion.” Gone in a whoosh of flame, a smoke ring left to mark your place on earth. Where last you were–in this case, where last the woman sat.
No one understood it, they had said, though theories offered might have been an answer if it happened often enough, but it was rare. A rare phenomenon that no one felt was worth the time and money to explore. But he thought about it quite a lot.
For years he thought it might be the fire of anger, like when his father got so mad he yelled and swung a belt at everyone who scattered through the rooms. Then because he was a small boy then, he’d find a place to hide. And watch. He didn’t want to miss the sight, the phenomenon of seeing his dad explode in fiery rage.
It never happened though, at least not spontaneously. And when they asked him later, he told them it was natural, though very rare.