There’s nowt but thistles that live on the empty plot at the end of the street. It was home to a house once upon a time, but that place burned to the ground many moons ago. All that remains is a labyrinth of thistles, the only plants vicious and spiky and determined enough to sprout from the scorched ground.
Nobody knows who started the fire, but there’s always been murmurings and pointed fingers. Some say it was a cigarette, still smouldering, left carelessly on the arm of a chair. Others say it was a dodgy extension cable or a dodgy toaster or a dodgy electric heater. More still say it was something much more sinister.
There was always an atmosphere around that house, see. The local cats would avoid it like the plague. The hairs on the back of your neck would stand on end whenever you walked past it. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, there’d be this hopeless, pitiful wailing coming from it, although it was a noise so faint, so faraway that it seemed to come from another dimension. And it still happens even now. I heard it just a couple of weeks ago, as if the thistles were howling into the night, mourning the house that once was.
Some people say that the noise comes from the lad who lived there – the same one who disappeared the night the fire happened. They reckon he burned the place down, so done in was he by the treatment he received from his parents. They say he burned himself down with it. They say he was burnt so much to a crisp that there was nothing left of him to find; he was just soot and dirt and fodder for the thistles. But it’s those thistles, they say, that carry his spirit now. That’s why they’re so spiky and vicious, why they’ve grown so tall and woody and imposing, why they howl at the moon – because his soul isn’t at rest.
They’re all wrong. That boy burned the house down alright, but he didn’t take himself down with it. And I should know because I’m him, and I’m just fine.
It’s my mother and father in those thistles, wailing away like there’s no tomorrow. Just like they did before I set them alight.