As flame and wood assimilated to become one, producing nothing but ash in their wake. She wanted to move, to run away from the sight of her burning home...but she couldn't. She had to keep watching.
What used to be a modernized Victorian was now nothing more than a giant piece of firewood. The flames taunted her as they danced about, seemingly growing larger the longer she watched them.
'Look at what you've done.' They said, destroying all she had worked for as punishment for a crime they seemed to have already accused her of.
'Failure.' The flames screamed again, their cries of victory now a taunting song. She tried to ignore it; but, like a spider to its web, she was stuck to her spot, rooted by fear and disgust. The latter aimed at herself – all this was her fault, anyway.
There was nothing she could do to remedy the situation now, so she would have to be content with watching as her life was destroyed before her.
Miss Summers?” A voice came from behind, breaking her free from the spell the flames held over her.
She turned to give the plain-clothed detective a pointed looked, a silent reprimand for disrupting her deserved punishment.
“Are you Ashlyn Summers?” He asked again, either unaffected or ignorant to her glare.
“Yes.” Her answer was short and curt.
“I'm Detective Walsh. I'll be investigating your case.”
A case. Of course there was a case. Ashlyn wanted to tell the detective that he was wasting his time, that all his efforts would prove to be nothing more than futile. However, she remained silent. He wouldn't understand.
“Nice to meet you, detective.” Her smile was hardly worth the effort.
“I know this must be tough, but it would be really helpful if you could provide a list of people who would want to --”
“Burn down my house?” Ashlyn provided with a bit more bitterness than intended. Her face going stoic, she pointed towards the crowd of people that had been surrounding her burning home for the past hour. “Pick one.”
To his credit, the detective tried to look unnerved by her apathy towards all of this.
“You think one of your neighbors is responsible for burning down your home?”
She made a face as though she was actually contemplating his question: “No.”
"Do you know of anyone who would?”
Ashlyn stared at the detective, her eyes glued to his. “No,” she replied again in her same aloof tone.
“Okay.” The detective seemed to get quiet for a while as he scribbled some things down in his notebook. Ashlyn assumed he was trying to come with a list of suspects based off the very little – or rather, none – of information she had provided.
Ashlyn turned her attention back to what was left of her burning home. The flames had at least stopped taunting her, making the site a little more bearable.
“Miss Summers!” she heard detective Walsh call out over her shoulder.
She turned back around, looking at him expectantly. Of course, she knew he had nothing, but playing the part of the victim made her feel like one.
“It's a getting late. We are going to head out for the night and continue this in the morning. Do you have any place to stay for the night?”
Ashlyn looked for a moment, a solemn look making its way on to her delicate features. She had not even thought of where she was going to go. Her purse and all of its contents were currently ash, and she had no friends to spend the night with. She couldn't even spend the night in her car, because that too had been taken by the fire. Until the banks reopened in the morning, she was essentially homeless.
“Yes,” she lied. She wasn't sure if she was surprised by the lie itself or how easy it was for her to do so.