I did not try to burn down my house with my children in it

I did not try to burn down my house with my children in it.

Sometimes I forget it’s my story they’re trying to tell when I hear of the woman who planned to kill her children. I shudder to think that a mother would pour fuel on her children, light them up, and then watch them burn.

That woman is not me.

I am a mother trying to keep her children from their father, and also keep them alive long enough for me to be able to say “I did it”.


They say life is not a bed of roses. Sometimes I think it is a bed of thorns. For some of us, at least.

And the thorns flourished.

I desperately sought a place of oblivion, a place where I could forget my reality and create worlds that were kind to me. I’d given my honest best in this bed of thorns, after all. I’d paid my dues, and I have my scars to show for it.

Alcohol took me to that place, but before long I realised that the solace it provided was a lie. Its ultimate purpose was to finally do me in.

This realisation didn’t help my cause though because I still wanted that place of oblivion.

With two children, failing hope, and a man that took his frustrations out on me, it just kept getting worse.

It’s not like there were no jobs, I just couldn’t keep one long enough because of that ultimate purpose to undo me.

There have been days when I let my children go hungry because I’d spent the last money on me on a drink. Then I’d scream at them and beat them when they wouldn’t stop crying because they were hungry.

I can’t even remember all the times total strangers have shown up at my door with my children, because in my drunken state, I’d forgotten to pick them up from school.

And then there was that day when I’d just lost a job again. I’d gotten home to find my children at home. What happened? At least I’d remembered to take them to school.

“What happened?” I’d screamed at my five-year-old son.

“There’s no school today. It’s Saturday”.

“I told you we should have stayed in school”, his younger sister whispered, and then she started to cry.

Maybe she was afraid they’d get beaten again. Maybe she was afraid they’d have to clean the house after I’d messed it up again. For whatever reason, she wouldn’t stop crying.

And the fact just grated on my nerves.

I dragged them, kicking and screaming, and locked them in a room, “to think about what you’ve done”, I told them.

I had no idea what they had done, but in my drunken state, it had seemed like a terrible thing.

I don’t remember what happened in the space of time after I’d locked them up, and before the bucket of water was poured on me.

It took a while before I could figure out what was going on.

Two doors had been broken to get into the house, and to my children.

My children.

The house was filled with smoke, and neighbours were trying to put out the fire.

I’d tried to cook before I’d fallen asleep. The house was a mess, and too many things lay around to carry the fire.

“Where are my children, please?”

Nobody was talking to me.

This is a fictional piece, excerpted from “Sincerely, Mother”.