By Kushagrata Goel
As she watched the house, it was slowly engulfed by the bright creeping hands of fire. It lit the once solemn night, the streets of this abandoned neighborhood now crowded with unknown faces. She was suddenly aware, every muscle in her body ready to run away from the man running towards her with outstretched arms. She turned, eyes wide in panic, when the man wrapped a blanket around her. Escorting her towards a nearby ambulance, he asked her if she was okay. Not knowing how to reply, she simply nodded, still wary of the man’s intentions. Once he was sure she was in good hands, the strange man ran back towards the house, picking up a hose along the way.
Every strange face seemed to resemble theirs. She could see them everywhere she looked. The woman who was checking her pulse started to shape into someone whose face was burned into her every memory, every nightmare. The false serenity on her soft face, the long auburn hair that so closely resembled her own. She could see the blade in her hands, feel the metal cut into her skin. The man handing her a glass of water suddenly looked like the man who caused her so much pain, whose eerie stillness made chills run up her spine. Always poised but his eyes betrayed him. Even with her eyes open, she could picture the fiery licks of anger that only she could see. They showed no mercy, they did not know what it was.
She was on edge, the slightest movement made her jump. Like a wounded animal, all she expected was pain. She was ready to shout out pleas, begging everyone not to hurt her. The minute no one was looking at her, she flew off her seat, ignoring the discomfort her wounds were causing her. She had to get away. She walked around aimlessly, ending up in front of the house in flames.
The fire was mostly extinguished; the damage could be seen clearly in the midst of the smoke and ash. The walls of the ground floor were somewhat intact, but the roof and part of the second floor had caved in. She was not supposed to make it out. That was not a part of the plan. She was supposed to attain peace at last. She realized the irony behind it all; the end would be her first moment alive. A small sense of hope started growing inside her. Maybe, just maybe, they had not made it out in time. She quickly brushed it away. If she was out, what would have stopped them? Knowing her fortune, no good could have come of this. She sighed, knowing that it was only a matter of time before the torment began. The torturous blows that would fall on her, the pain spreading through her body, making it difficult to breathe. They would know it was her, that it was not an accident. They always knew. It made her wish she had just stopped breathing, that she had not made it out of the fire. Fear surged through her, aware that the moment they found her, they would take turns doing whatever they pleased. One freak, watching the other, loving the sight of her withering body. Suddenly she could feel herself choking. A sudden rush of anxiety filled her. Would anyone believe her? Would anyone help her? Of course not. No one saw past the sickly sweet pretense to see what lurked underneath.
She had to be sure. No matter how much she wanted to run away, she had to see them, their veiled anger, their glee at catching her in the act. A fireman was talking to one of the doctors. Two stretchers were being loaded into the ambulance. She moved closer to them, trying to hear what they were saying.
“… in the kitchen it seems. Maybe the gas was left on, it has not been confirmed, but that’s probably it.” She knew all this. After all, this was her play, every last detail was of her creation. Her impatience grew, wanting to know. She needed to know if anything else had not gone as planned. “The girl was lucky,” the man continued, “near the exit, minor wounds. But the child was the only survivor. These two were long gone by the time we …”
She did not need to hear any more. She could not hear it anyway. It was drowned out by the sound of her pounding heart. Suddenly the ashy air smelled fresh to her, she smelled freedom. There was a glint in her eyes that had not been there before. A smile had begun to make its way across her face but she quickly concealed it. She felt a foreign sensation of what she figured must be happiness, pure elation. She composed herself. She knew she had lost a roof to live under, she did not know where she would end up. She knew that she was not in the clear, but for now, she was triumphant. She had won over them. They had been hurting her for years but she had delivered the final blow. She had outsmarted them, sent them to their final resting beds. If only she could look them in the eye, knowing that she was stronger. She hated feeling this good at the thought of someone else’s suffering, but the malice in her heart was overpowering her moral compass. Deep down, she knew she was wrong to have done what she had. She could not even fathom what would happen to her if someone else found out. But even if she could take it back, she did not want to
She could see the firemen approaching her, probably about to deliver what they thought would be devastating news. She would have to keep herself from exposing her joy to them. No one could know. She would mask her feelings, just like they had. In some ways, she had lost. But there was so much more to gain. As she was about to sit down, a realization dawned upon her; this was not her end. She was flawed but not wrong. Maybe she would finally join her sisters in Erebus.
Kushagrata is a first year student in St. Michael’s College and plans to pursue a double major in History and Political Science. She is an avid writer who has a page for her writing on Instagram as well as a blog online. She hopes to make people passionate through her writing as well as draw their attention to social and political issues that exist around us, playing an important role in lives that are just beyond our horizon.
Photo Credit: Adam Wilson on Unsplash