Chapters 3 & 4 - Fire rages.
|Chapter 3 ~ Fire
As the bell signals the beginning of the day, it also signals the end. We leave our work and stream out the doors.
Tiro stands to the side, waiting for me to catch up. “Ready?” he asks, flashing a smile at me.
We walk through the uncertain light of Dusk, stepping from light to dark. Suddenly there is the sound of pounding footsteps, and people race around the corner, splitting on either side of us.
I turn to watch their backs, noticing the vibrant red ribbons that each member was wearing, tied on a wrist, leg, or head. Gang members.
I quickly glance at Tiro. He's already scanning the horizon for signs of trouble, for where gangs pass, destruction follows closely behind.
“There,” I say, pointing to a billow of dark, threatening smoke.
Tiro takes a voluntary step toward the smoke, then stops, turning to look at me. “I have to help,” he says, and I read the determination in his eyes immediately.
I nod. “Lets go.” I take off running, weaving through streets.
But as we run, an uneasy feeling grows in my stomach, and I run faster, harder.
Because the route I am taking toward the smoke is the exact same I would take to go home.
My heart crawls into my throat as I slide to a stop. My fears are confirmed.
Crackling, blazing red flames rise into the sky, devouring my home in its fiery tendrils.
“NO!” I scream, as I realize Tiro and I are the only ones in the clearing.
The despair in me lifts, just an inch, as my father stumbles out of the flames, blackened by the smoke and ash. He's carrying Sawyer.
“Summer, Ellie, Noah,” he gasps, looking around wildly.
“Not here,” Tiro says, white-faced, and all three of us surge forward, into the blazing furnace.
I'm thrown into instant confusion, because all I can see is smoke, smoke and flames and ash. I grope forward, gagging on the toxic fumes.
“Summer!” I scream hoarsely. “Noah! Ellie!”
I hear Father and Tiro calling also, over the roaring flames, but I cannot see them.
Then, faintly, I hear a cough, a “help”, and I'm scooping up Ellie, and rushing her out. I gulp in air, set her down, and dash back in as Tiro staggers out with Noah.
I desperately search for Summer, blinded by smoke and the tears streaming down my face. And I can't breathe, can't breathe.
A blurry figure suddenly appears in front of me. It's my father, dragging Summer by her arms.
“Tamisin,” my father chokes, “get out.”
I grab Summer and start to help him.
I see the opening, ringed by flames, and then a horrific crack fills the air. I somehow immediately know what the noise is – one of the poles holding our lean-to up had snapped.
I do the only thing I can think of. I wrap my arms around Summers waist and hurl both of us toward the opening.
Shifting Summer's weight off me, I lift my head in time to see the tent collapse behind us, shooting sparks into the night air.
It's a gruesome, dark kind of beauty. My strained screams and body racking sobs mix with the snapping, burning, ravaging flames.
I start to sink into blackness.
It's Tiro's voice, ordering me to my feet, reaching into the blackness to pull me out.
I obey, pulling my legs under me and pushing myself to my feet. My mind clears.
Gulping in air, I gather my shocked siblings into my arms. I'm still sorrow-shocked and stricken, but I pull myself together, forcing strength into my words, my body.
I raise my eyes to meet Tiro's. He circles his arms around all of us, but his gaze is for me only.
Chapter 4 ~ New Hope
Late at night, we rouse ourselves from our mourning and wander down the streets. Not gracefully, with joy, as Tiro and I had... was that this morning?
Tiro leads us to his home, for there is nothing left behind me, in that twisted pile of smoking wreckage that was once our home.
The children and I drift like ghosts through the dank darkness, and the only reason we do not stray is because Tiro is there, guiding us.
I feel numb, as if watching from somewhere high above. Almost like when we gazed at the City from the highest building, but this was different, more sleepy, painful. My body is there, but my soul is elsewhere, floating among the clouds.
I wonder how it would float – wings?
Stop it. I tell myself. You're getting delirious.
I wrench myself back to reality, grabbing Summers hand and then lacing my fingers in Tiro's, seeking comfort.
He looks down at me, squeezes my hand. “Almost there,” he whispers. “We're gonna be okay.”
We. I get a tingle of warmth, a sense of resistance, a resistance to giving up.
Together, I think.
Tiro still holds my gaze, and I get the familiar feeling that he's reading my mind, because he knows exactly what to say to comfort me.
“Together,” he promises softly, “we'll do it together.”
And once again, Hope flows, as it always will. Through the City, through the streets, and most importantly, through its people.
THE END!! :)