Short Story: Flame
This is something that I had to write for my Language Arts class. It was based off of a fear, and when I was little I was terrified of the house burning down. I didn't have much time to embellish the action part of it but my class gets pretty exasperated when I write a ten-page essay...
The room was bathed in the shades of twilight: navy, silver and black. I heard the hissing of the match kindling as I struck it against the side of the matchbox. When I lowered the match to a sky blue candle, the red and orange flames kissed the wick. Using the same match, I lit all my candles lined up around the bathroom – thick and thin, tall and short, vanilla-scented and apple-spice. I put my hands on my hips and surveyed my work, pausing to press the play button on my music player. Slipping out of my school uniform, I slid into the clawfoot bathtub, filled to the brim with steaming water and foamy bubbles. A sigh of contentment escaped my lips as beautiful piano music with haunting vocals filled the room and I closed my eyes. Twenty minutes later I wrapped myself in a plush towel. Wringing out my sopping hair, I plodded across my sister’s carpet and into my room. Putting my hair in a towel turban, I dried off and slipped into a soft pair of fleece pajamas. I jumped onto my bed and lay spread-eagled on the flowered bedspread, closing my eyes. Suddenly, a horrifying thought crossed my mind. Had I put out the candles? Panicking, I jumped up and sprinted to the bathroom. Oh no, oh no, oh no. I saw a glowing dot of red readily expanding and filling the open doorway. Skidding to a stop, I gaped at the sight. Tongues of flame crawled up the side of the white-painted doorway. Smoke spilled out of the doorway, forming shapes and shadows that looked like the demons of hell trying to crawl their way out into the world. “Hannah!” I cried. Please, God, let Hannah be safe. I tried to figure out what to do. The water was in the bathroom, but I could not just leave the fire there to burn. I saw the wax pooling onto the floor, blending together in a mixing pot of different pastel colors. As if in slow motion, another candle tipped over, this time catching the lacy curtain. The pure white was devoured by crisp black and a deep brown color. Letting out a sob, I ran my heart out to the stairs. My mom and brother were in Virginia, looking at colleges. My dad was at work. I did not know where Hannah was. “Hannah!” I screamed. My voice cracked as I scream. The smoke was spreading to the top of the third floor. Why wasn’t the smoke detector going off? I needed to find my sister; there was no point to life without her. Screaming, I ran around the area of my house. Ducking into my dad’s office, the laundry room, my parent’s room, and all the other rooms of the house, I found nobody. I could just hope that she was not in her room, but I had not seen her in her room. The flames had spread to the middle of the staircase; I was stuck downstairs. I shallowly thought of all my possessions: my books, my music, and my clothes. My books. Pushing aside those thoughts, I continued my search. I heard the whimpering of my Labrador, Molly. I ran to her and grabbed the side of her collar. The door was locked and the key was upstairs. I had no choice. I punched through the glass window, hearing one of my knucklebones snap and feeling the warm blood slide down my hand. I twisted the golden doorknob around, finally opening the door. I shoved Molly outside and slapped her rump, forcing her to run to the edge of the dewy grass. With the breaking of the window, the alarm sounded. The sharp piercing tones of the alarm filled the silence and the crackle of the fire intensified. I cradled my hand in my other fist, crying from the pain. “Hannah!” I cried, tears running down my face. Where was she? I stopped calling for her and waited for a second. I was certain that I heard her shout, barely distinguishable from the sound of the fire. I followed the sound and sprinted up the stairs, falling in the process and ducking. I pulled my pajama top up to cover my nose, coughing. My eyes watered. It was scorching and I was burning. “Please!” I did not know who I was shouting to; I just wanted something to go right. “Grace!” I heard the muffled shouts. “Help!” “Hannah! I’m coming!” I yelled in the general direction of her voice. Ducking under a fallen beam, I hesitated at the staircase. Where previous wood had glistened, there was only the skeletal remains of a memory. The entire house was breaking in its grief. I tried to find a path with no fire, where blissfully cool air remained. I tried to avoid the brilliant dancing tongues of flame but I was unsuccessful. I screamed – a high, desperate sound – as my sleeve caught. The fire was burning me. Pain unlike anything that I had ever experienced coursed through my body. I somehow made it to the top of the stairs and I tried to find a clear patch of floor. Stop, drop, and roll. “Grace!” She was closer. I stepped forward, to the doorway filled with growing strips of orange and red. She was in there. If I went in, I would die. There was no way to get in there without walking straight through the wall of pure fire. I plunged in and sprinted through the flames with my eyes closed. Maybe if I could preserve the illusion of darkness, the light wouldn’t smother me. I wouldn’t feel any pain. But it did not work. Agony is the only way to describe what I felt. My body was shutting down as the smoke saturated the air. I saw Hannah, in the corner of the room, the rug of fire slowly creeping towards her and alighting everything in its path. I ran to her and grabbed her. “Run!” I screamed, sobbing. “Run! Please!” Tears ran down her face and she took my arm. I heard the wail of sirens fill the air and the heat was so humid that I could barely breathe. The smoke did not help that. She grabbed my hand and I held on tight. This was the final burst of reassurement that I got from her. We ran. We ran for our family. We ran for our friends. We ran for ourselves. When we got to the staircase, however, it had disintegrated into ash, with a flimsy few stairs as our only option. “Go.” Hannah nodded towards the staircase. I could not take it. “Remember when I told you that I wanted to die before you? I can’t imagine life without you.” I managed to choke out to her. We were crying together, and gripping each other because we knew that we were not going to survive the fire. At least we had each other. The most intense fear I had ever felt overwhelmed me and I sobbed. I was scared to die; I know that we go to heaven when we die, but I was scared. I was not scared of what I would face, but of what I would leave behind. What about my mom? What about my family and my dog? What about my friends? What about my dreams? “Hannah, I love you.” “I love you.” As the flames advanced towards us, all that I remember is blackness and the feeling of her hand in mine as the world crashed down on us. They say that when you die, your entire life flashes before your eyes. That does not happen with me; I just see Hannah. “Grace!” I heard a hysterical voice. Something was lying over my mouth…was that an oxygen mask? I came to in the cramped confines of a hospital room. My cheek throbbed. “Hannah! Where is she?!” I panicked. My mom was crying. “Mom! Where is she?!” I started to cry and I wished the blackness had taken me. She was dead. Grief crushed me and I couldn’t think of anything that could ever take this away. I started to wail. “Sweetie! She’s right outside the ambulance! She didn’t breathe in as much smoke as you because you were in the house longer. The firefighters saved you.” Sweet relief ran through me. Strangely enough, I started to cry again. It seems like I cried about everything that day. I was angry and sad and scared and guilty for lighting that candle in the first place. “Mommy, I love you.” She cradled me into her chest and I felt my wet tears soaking the front of her soft t-shirt. My dad stepped in, along with Hannah and the rest of my family. They tell me that it was the following day. I blacked out for about thirteen hours and I was in very critical condition. Hannah leaned in for a hug and avoided my face. “Why are you looking away?” I was puzzled. My mom quickly changed the subject. “The only floors that were damaged were the second and third. All of our possessions on the first floor are safe. It’s only our rooms that are too badly damaged.” “What happened to my face?” She wordlessly handed me a mirror. A webbed scar was stretched across the entire left side of my face. The red and puckered wound was swollen and part of my eyelid was scratched. It was permanent. “We don’t look identical anymore.” Hannah gripped me in a silent hug. With all the fear and events of the previous day, my life is forever changed. At least I have one thing: I have Hannah to guide me through it.