Ten years ago. . .
THE GLOWING EMBERS LEAPED AND TWIRLED IN A FIERY DANCE, TWINKLING LIKE THE STARS IN THE DARK SKY.
It shone with glory and pride, illuminating the darkness. Thick, grey smoke billowed upwards, the once blue sky now shielded by a mask of darkness. The flames licked the oxygen with their wrath, refusing to be contained. They danced in orange and red colours, hungrily searching for fuel.
The fire had no mind or pity, consuming whatever came across its path. It licked the walls of the house, burning the grass to a bleached yellow colour. The outside was alit with the smell of burning cedar.
A window suddenly blew out, sending glistening shards of glass onto the unkempt yard. My fingers clutched and entwined in my woolen blanket, gripping it as if my life depended on it. But as I stared up at the flames that engulfed my home, scorching and singeing the surrounding trees, what I needed wasn’t a blanket, but the reassurance that my Mother was okay.
A scream ripped through the night; the kind that would make your blood run cold. It pierced my brain, making the hairs stand up straight on the back of my neck. It echoed through the estate, filled with terror. Feeling the blood drain from my face, I slowly tried to get up but realized how futile it was when I had to bite my lip to keep from crying out. Sharp pain laced through my head and colorful spots flashed in front of my eyes. It felt like my whole body had been beaten and every movement caused some muscle or bone to ache.
A hand grasped my arm and tugged me back as I went to run.
“Let me go!” I screamed, “Let me go!”
“You can’t go in!”
The world seemed to turn into a blur and a desperate scream ripped from my throat. My skin craved the comfort of my Mother; the feeling of her warm arms wrapped around me.
But she wasn’t here.
I sank to my knees, my tears raining down on the parched soil. My gasping wails echoed in the silent night. My small fists were clenched so tightly, I could feel the sweat trapped inside them. With each sob that ripped through me, my shoulders wracked with emotion, demanding to be felt.
“It must be awful for him.”
“It’s never easing losing a parent that young.”
Their pitiful whispers caressed my ears, but I blocked them out. Nausea swirled, unrestrained, in my empty stomach. It felt like all the air had been sucked out of me, and I was left feeling hollow and numb.
“Mom,” A silent whimper escaped my lips, “Please come back.”
Our home was now like something out of a horror movie, twisted plastic and charred wooden posts, nothing to salvage. The air smelt of burning, acrid, chemical infused and choking. My eyes moved from face to face in the gathering crowd, showcasing their horror.
The final blow arrived a few seconds later. Scorch marks appeared, the heat so intense that all moisture was driven sky-bound. The smell dominated every breath and the flames were louder than I expected, roaring as they consumed what was once my home. Orange flames blew out the the doors and sent horizontal jets of flame out ten feet or more. The rich oaky smell of the fire permeated the night sky, wisps of silver grey smoke curling upwards.And while Father and I were being held back outside, Mother was the one person who didn’t make it out.