Lars, 5 and 10, was a sad boy- but not sad enough to die.
Dad would raise his voice just enough to ring the cedar house: “Come eat Lars, sit by the fire.” From wooden bowls they ate sausage with their hands, and Dad would down Siku vodka without a word.
Lars, 5 and 10, needed comfort- and Dad wasn’t.
It came that Lars drank some of Dad’s Siku. He wanted to be warm with fire-water, to feel a little burn. It did ember in him but it was a sick one. Dad found him sipping it wet eyed, grounded him for a month. No leaving the house, he had mumbled.
Lars, 5 and 10, was jealous of the wood in the fire place- he was too cold.
Lars would shake at the wood, tremble at it burning wholly yet still be alive, how it crackled so gleefully. Maybe the treeskin died but God did it go out in a way to be envied. Its aura particles of relief sputtered outward like at nighttime under the covers, a serene blessing of combustion not accessible to a not-yet-man.
Matches might be comfort, and Lars took them from the cupboard.