By Alexandra von Behrle
Of my nightmares last year, probably about 10% come from imagining the charred scene inside of a place. Whether some big, scary thing came out of it or not, I tried to imagine: rubble, the heat. It just happened.
Once, my brother carried me into the back of the car, open to the sun. He pointed at the lit log over the bathroom door. It’s my little brother and I. Apparently you can build models on hanger logs and whatnot. Mine had been a big ol’ bush. I wondered if something was up there. He reassured me, maybe it was mine or maybe it wasn’t.
No matter. He poured gas on it. We all took off in our cars. I took the right-hand-facing side. I made sure to be taller than him and help as much as I could. He got out and started to dry his wet butt and I got a good look at my father. I’ve seen that picture probably 10,000 times, but I didn’t know the person. My dad was inside of my grandfather’s old hut where he had “hammered into wooden planks to build a hanger log,” said Victor von Behrle. My grandfather also built our bathroom.
I walked into this scene on June 24, 2018, on the South Bank of Australia. It looked like a wall of fire. I saw something that I realized was an experiment. I saw something that looked like a tree. I saw something that looked like a tree. I saw someone draw me something. I felt overwhelmed and awkward, but I knew I could not stop it, this kind of incident. I could not let it die, I couldn’t give up.
I walked back to the porch and it was as if everyone around me had just stopped. I did not want to look at the log, which was lit as if the log fire had just burnt all over the floor and the walls. I did not want to wake up the rest of the family. So I turned back to the reflector strip on the back of the car. I looked at the logs on the radiator block. I saw a grease fire.
I saw water dripping from it. I remembered my grandfather’s used wooden rotary hammer. I pulled back the doors to see if the motion could help keep the water out. I wanted to find the hubcaps. I worked it out. I used my rotary hammer and my hammer with the knob. If it worked, the water would go everywhere. If it didn’t, there was no point to it. You tried everything you could, whenever you could. But you didn’t need a damn thing.
I lifted up the log by its stump. It was incredible. It could not be saved. All of my brothers and I were sitting in the shed, looking at our possessions. My father, with his own little red beard, looked up at me and told me we had started at the back. So I walked around the shed to get away from our screens. I was there. And I was too curious. I made a strange noise to remember. Someone left the barbecue.
I pulled back the screen, saw the fire. I saw a lurch. What the hell was that? The fire came toward me. There was not a TV. I saw my father kneeling over the toilet, trying to put out the fire. I saw my grandparents putting their hands over their mouths. Maybe it was the breath. Who knows? I felt so miffed. But I knew the fire was over. There were flames in the house, people inside. Everyone standing around them. My grandparents. We wanted to stay.
I started to cry. My grandfather and I talked. He asked me where the fireplace was. I told him I was in the basement. I knew that I couldn’t sleep. I picked up the axe and went down to the basement. We could find a place, but there was no place to put the fireplace.
I was numb for days. It seemed forever. I thought about my dad and grandparents and my grandfather. I started to feel about them as if nothing could ever happen to them again. And then we all went to my friend’s place and he told me the same thing.
Now, I can understand. When the house burned down, it changed me. It didn’t have to.*Class in the 4th year of Digital Media by Alexandra von Behrle