Ashes coat the stones at her feet. She remembers how the fire danced hot and bright in that very spot as she lifts the pail of soapy water and dashes it over the stones. Water cools her toes and she kneels.
There is no relief from the sun amongst the spoiled trees and the scorched air. The scrubbing brush loosens the ash and it swirls down on rivulets of water, coating her legs and arms in grey stripes. She doesn't care that her clothes are soaked. Tears make white hot rivers on her face. In her mind, the fire burns again.
The ashes are gone, the stones are clean. She hoists the pail of clean water, turning it over her head and letting it rinse her body. She sucks in a breath as rivers of old fire trace paths into the dust of the ruins of her home.
BIO: MICHELLE GARREN FLYE writes from her home in North Carolina.