Between The Flames And The Void

My mouth was dry. My lack of water intake combined the week-old chips that I ate earlier lead to a very itchy throat. The fact that I was surrounded by flames didn’t help much either. Smoke rises from what used to be my favourite coffee table; now mere lumps of firewood. In the corner, my wife’s favourite plant is set alight and I can’t help be glad I won’t be nagged anymore on the overgrown weed.

All around me cherished memories burn to the ground but I don’t have time to think. If I didn’t act quickly I would lose my most cherished memory; my son. He wasn’t downstairs, I had sent him to his room before the failure that is my wife’s cooking burnt the kitchen. I assured her we would laugh about it one day while I ushered her to safety and promised to get James.

Rushing up the stairs, I quickly got the the first floor of our two storey apartment. I made a sharp right towards the end of the hallway. The blue door was left open; James was not in the room. i checked under the bed, in the wardrobe and everywhere a ten year-old could hide. Knowing James he must have seen the fire and hid but where? I moved out of the room and into the corridors. Quickly I began ransacking each room; nothing. I was about to start the last one when I heard my wife calling my name.

I quickly rush to the window to check if she’s ok and I see Clarissa holding our little James in her hands. Her eyes, as well as mine, are full of tears and I can’t help but smile; not all of my memories are gone. I turn back around only to find the stairs gone. In their place, a sweltering wall of fire. I reroute towards the fire-escape at the other side but my path is blocked as well; the irony is not lost on me, just not appreciated.

I stumble on the floor; my head feels numb probably due to the lack of oxygen. I take a deep breath of smoke-filled air while I still can, I doubt it would get cleaner any time soon. I make my way, albeit shakily, to my only path of escape; the window. Ordinarily I would consider any person who thought of jumping out of a five storey building insane. I always wondered why people caught in fires never just braved through the fire instead of jumping out of the buildings. Now that I’m in the same situation I could understand the mentality.

I stare out of the window once more, considering my options. Either I stayed where I was and became a roasted ginger, in more ways than one, or I jumped out and became a red headed pancake. Neither of the options seemed pleasant but I doubted the jump would feel as painful as being burnt alive so I jump.

A mixture of emotions come running at me all at once. Fear, sadness, anxiety. Some say that your life flashes before your eyes as you die. The only thing I saw was the last 15 minutes of my life. James was angry because I wasn’t spending enough time with him. “What would happen if you were gone” he said, tears falling from his soft brown eyes. I assured him that I would always be with him but he wasn’t convinced. I sent him to his room because I was too tired and busy at the time. If I had known. The irony of these situations is that we always think we would do better if we could see the future but no one really can. And Dave Bonsky, a 30 year old man, is only realising this as he falls head first to the ground.

But I come to another realisation; I don’t want to die. I don’t want my last moments with my son to be some cruel irony. I don’t want to be lost to time just yet. I want to be there. And as the ground rushes upwards I hope, I hope that I can begin anew.

The Icognito Writer


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