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House Fire

A strange smell wakes me in the middle of the night. I open my eyes to find a curtain covered with flame sitting by my window. Fire floods my room. Ash starts to cloud my vision. The smoke fills my lungs and suddenly I can’t breathe. All I have are my hands to feel my way out. The wood floors are getting hotter and hotter underneath my feet. I drop to my knees to escape the ash clouds intoxicating me. Trying to crawl and feel around for the way to the door, I focus on what I still have. I can hear the flickering of the fire close to my ear. I focus on it hard. The door can’t be far now, only a few more paces and I’ll be outside. Listening to the flame burning next to me I hear something else. A voice behind the flame. My body pauses. What a relief to hear someone in my time of need, they’ve come to save me! I can stop fighting now. You must know I’m here, sitting inside this fire. As the flames get closer and closer to my body on the floorboards, my hope is unwavering. I know they will save me. How lucky am I to have you to wait for? My hands become cold as I feel the fire dance on top of my skin. I once wrote that you will not be the hill that I die on. Now I watch my skin shrivel up in flame as I sit and wait.

Naive. This is how I know I’ll be described, the way young women are. Be quieter, be softer, be fragile. Let them hold you like a porcelain doll. Let them see how hard they can squeeze until you start to crack.

I feel so cold.

I was good, wasn’t I? Good enough to be one of the ones you save? Not a difficult woman, one who adapts to what you need. One who gets to survive to the end of the story. That's all I really want, to survive to the end.

I can’t breathe.

I see spots. My eyes can’t stay open any longer. With just the edge of consciousness left in my body, I think of you, watching my cremation. Faith in you held like religion in my bones. Yet, you don’t come. At least I die knowing you never dirtied your hands trying to save me.

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