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Edition I:

Arson

Arson is almost surely taken from a Greek word meaning to set something ablaze. If it isn’t, then it really ought to be. But we needn’t waste our time wondering about that, need we? When we wonder, children, we haven’t time to do – a thing to remember.

To set things ablaze can be great fun and useful, too. A small house fire can help any child avoid an unpleasant task, exact revenge upon friend, foe or family, or simply find delight on an otherwise dreary afternoon. But those things that bring us the most joy aren’t always easy. On quite the contrary, they take hard work and careful planning – a thing to remember.

When a boy or girl first decides to commit an act of arson, he or she must be very careful to tell only those he or she trusts the most. A trustworthy friend is a friend who is afraid of you, or trying very hard to gain your approval. Have you a fat or a poor friend? A friend with few or no other friends? If you must share your secret intent to set things ablaze, a friend like this is the ideal confidant. Be wary of envy, though. Through eyes of green, the jealous see, and also tattlers they may be – a thing to remember.

Once the hopeful child arsonist has found motivation and target, he or she must remember these basic rules:

• Your method of ignition must not be easily traced. We fray wires, children. We never cut them. We needn’t employ matches, lest we be marked amateurs – the stick itself may burn away, sulfur though, is here to stay – a thing to remember. A dropped cigarette or candle next to a sleeping parent or guardian is grand if and only if we’re comfortable with homicide and blame passing. We at A Child’s Guide find that arson is best left seeming accidental, and out of control brush fires, electrical mishaps and gas leaks are the least traceable to boys and girls.

• You cannot allow yourself to be seen setting the fire. Siblings, rivals, goody two shoeses and adults mustn’t be nearby during emblazoning. If you’ve a confidant, enlist him or her as a look out.

• Timing is key. A slow ignition will best allow you time to leave the blaze point, which will help ensure your bodily safety as well as the soundness of your alibi. A child arsonist is most successful when the fire rages while he or she is at school or church, or doing yard work. Away from the home, adults willn’t suspect you.

• If you’re lucky enough to watch the burning of whatever it is you’ve set ablaze, you must be careful that your face doesn’t give you away. Feigning horror is a difficult feat, and many children find the subtlety too difficult to master. It is best for the child arsonist to watch if and only if he or she can surely not be seen. In our faces, truth appears, so we must hide them from our peers- a thing to remember.

Employ these simple guidelines to ensure that your smoldering dreams of glory burn brightly as you do. And as always my darlings, a child taught is never caught- A thing to remember.

Julia Weiss is a writer, improviser, and actress. Julia has a big heart and a tiny bladder. Julia likes baths and wine. @weiss_tea.

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