C1: The Fire
It started with a bang. My life changed forever in that moment. You never forget the smell, a mixture of gunpowder and sulfur and burning flesh. A hundred people died that day: men, women, young, and old. I was one of the few that survived. My family was not so lucky. Two sisters, a brother, my mother, and my father. All that was left was me and my day-old, new-born brother. Our whole world was shattered... all in an instant...
“Melody...?” My therapist, Jane, speaks now. “Are you alright?”
I snap my attention away from the memories and wipe my tears. “Yeah, just fine...” I lie. It’s an easy lie to say, but not so much to show. “Okay... Maybe not fine... I’m finding it hard to forget the past. It’s been almost seven years and it still haunts me. Sometimes I just want to curl up and...” I sigh. “You know?”
Jane nods. “I understand. Are you taking the medicine Dr. Thomas prescribed for you?”
I huff a bit of laughter. “Yeah, and it doesn’t help. All it does is make me tired.”
She looks at me. “Have you discussed this with him?”
I snort. “He always tells me it’ll take time.”
She takes her glasses off and sighs. “Well, Melody, if it still doesn’t help in two weeks, talk to him and put your foot down. He can’t ignore the lack of results forever.” She stands. “Now, that’s all we have time for today. I’ll see you , say, Thursday at one o’clock?”
“Yeah, sure. Sounds great.” I can feel the sarcasm dripping off of my own voice.
She opens the door. “Great. See you then.”
I leave without saying anything further. I look at my brother in the lobby, playing with his toy cars, and it brings a small smile to my face. I finally got custody of him last year after I got emancipated by my foster mom. It took a hard battle, but it’s a small victory in the scheme of things. They want to take him away from me, the system. I won’t let them. I have a stable job, I’m in college, and I can more than support him and myself. Not to mention my best friend, Samantha, baby sits for me. They can’t legally take him away from me while I’m going to therapy and taking my meds.
I fake a smile and kneel down next to him. “Come on, Matt, let’s go. Sissy has to be at work in a couple of hours and you still need to eat.”
Matthew looks at me and scrunches his nose. “But I wanna go to the park.”
I frown exaggeratingly. "We can go tomorrow if you like. How does that sound?"
"Okay!" He grins and the small smile comes back to my face.
He's the only one who can get me to smile...
We hold hands as we walk home. I look at my watch occasionally to make sure we're still on schedule. Good, I still have enough time to take a shower before work. Nothing to get you going like and ice cold shower and a hot cup of coffee after. We keep chugging along until I feel him tug at my arm.
"Sissy..." he looks worried. "Why is that man following us?"
I turn. No one's there.
He points. "That man. He looks like he has a lot of holes in him."
I look again. "I don't see anyone, buddy. Come on, we have to go now." I look at my watch. Still have time. I tug on his arm a little and he follows.
We get home to our one-bedroom apartment and I heat up two hot dogs in the microwave and a single serve mac and cheese. As Matt is eating, I make my lunch for work and pack it in my lunchbox. Then I hand him his tablet and go to take my shower, leaving the door open in case he needs me for something.
The water feels a little too cold today as I wash my hair and my body. I think nothing of it.
I rinse, dry and make a cup of coffee as I wait for Sam to arrive. I fill my large to-go mug when the pot is done brewing. Flavored liquid creamer is a girl-on-the-move's best friend. No sugar, no hassle.
Sam arrives about five minutes early, as usual, and I give her the updates, as well as her pay for the week prior. "Matt already ate, he's only allowed to use his tablet for one more hour today and then it goes up and then he has to go do his homework. He has his math and his history to complete. Other than that, I'm sure you'll have a great time, as per usual, but you know you can always call me if something comes up."
Sam smiles, chuckling a little bit. "You sound just like a typical suburban mom right now."
I laugh. "I know, and I hate it, but if his life planned out and followed to the letter, the system will take him back. I can't let that happen."
Sam smiles. "Well, you go girl! Have fun at work."
"I'll try." I grab my lunch bag and my mug and look at Matt. "See you tonight!"
"Bye, sissy!" he runs up and hugs me. I hug him back tightly. "Don't be gone forever." Forever sounds like foh-ev-uh.
"I won't. I promise." I let go and head to work, sipping my coffee along the way.
As I walk to Nano-corp, my boss passes me. "Melody, hey. You're early. Great. We need you to look at something from Lab three, Room eighteen. Think you can handle it?"
"Of course." I say. "Always a pleasure."
"Fantastic. Also, we need you to backup the database from Lab four, Room Twelve."
"Got it. Is that all?"
"Yup. After you get all that done, just do as you usually do at your desk."
"Okay." I head inside, clock on, and smile fakely at everyone that passes my desk for the first couple hours, which is the time it takes me to finish the tasks given to me. The next is my actual job: security secretary. I basically just make sure no one comes in or goes out without their card. I get about halfway through my shift when I get the call...
My apartment is on fire...
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