My name is Liam Cloud Hogan. I am a senior at Charlottesville High School, and will attend  Pratt Institute for writing this fall. This summer I will attend my fourth year at the UVA Young Writer’s Workshop, in fiction writing. This story is part of a collection of many stories that explore how we record history.


 It is four o’clock in the morning and for the last twelve hours I have been watching
houses burn. It’s rather disturbing how much footage is out there. Dozens of bystander-voyeurs
with cell phones, home video cameras. I wonder what it is like for the homeowners to see what
others saw as their houses fell. I wonder what they would say to me.
 I watched more fires tonight. These videos are all similar, connected, like parts of some
sick gonzo cinematic movement. Conflagratory stories with no rising action, no climax, nothing
but hours and hours of denouement.
           Sometimes the firefighters can stop the fire from spreading but usually one burning house
wounds its neighbors. Or drags them down with it.
 We drove south today to see if we could find something. A house was burning by the side
of the road. She wouldn’t let me slow down. I could feel embers in my eyes.
 We didn’t find anything.
 Firebreathers prefer kerosene to gasoline because it takes more heat to make flames. Both
are bad for the lungs. Arsonists have no preference.
 When houses burn they fall apart like lepers. The fire exposes the rot beneath the skin.
(later) This house is rotting.
            What do we look like, from the outside?