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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The smell of smoke is an unspoken reminder.

My hand flapped around like a dying fish, "Oh yeah, thats what I good. Go Karting was always fun, have a good time," I smiled sweetly.

"Have a good time writing," he said. He leant over to kiss my cheek.

I hopped out of the car into the smoldering heat, shutting the door behind me and waving. It was a shaded kind of heat, and I looked up expecting rain drops. No, just a leaf from a tree. The large screen in the courtyard tried its best to overpower my music but it failed, I was busy listening to a new band I had found called 'No Busses'.  Pictures of a fire near by took up the projector screen in blazing reds and blacks. I was glad it wasnt about Covid-19 again, but then I wasn't surprised somehow, maybe considering the heat. I rembered the night before trying to sleep, and the snoring from Rob on the floor. It was a typical night, considering what we used to be told as kids, 'Hot air goes up, cold air goes down'. I remembered instantly one of my favorite nights of summer, when we gave up the floor and slept on the beach instead. I had crawled out of my sandy pink sheet in the morning to wash my hands in the ocean, and I remembered thinking that it was wonderful. I suppose the rising heat had ruined summers, and especially now that a lot of the sand had been taken up by water. 

The automatic doors let me in with a burst of cool air. The hallways seemed stranger since the smell of smoke had been trapped inside. The univeristy was almost empty aside from the few dedicated students awaiting the next semester to start in March. It seemed strange to me, since I had memorised what it smelt like in Ireland when I was visiting the old cottages. They had been re-made, and set up like they would have been in the Middle Ages. The castle looming over the whole picture making me believe for a moment I was no longer in a modern era. They were burning wood, and I imagined workers doing their jobs and house wives in the streets buying from the fish sellers. I got to the third floor, my breathing slightly laboured. Yes, I was in a modern Medieval scene, with lit screens and the scent of burning. There wasn't stone walls or floors, instead there was old office carpets. It wasnt dark and gloomy because of the wheather, and yet there were no candles. I walked past the rows and sat at a 
computer, and slowly the shadows from the windows grew.

I was thinking about what it would feel like to be a bird, and dazing at my screen watching
 humming birds nesting. There was a slow mounting yelling down stairs, and I broke my gaze away finally curious. I heard a running up the stairs, then an allarm sounding suddenly, and I stood up from my seat heart beating loudly. 

"Hello!, if theres anyone up here you need to get out now, theres a fire! Hello?!" There was a man frantically running through the book shelves looking for people.

I heard people get up from their seats, slowly at first and then loudly as people went to find their friends. I was stuck in place, watching the forest I walked through every day bursting into red flames. There was smoke coming from down stairs now and I heard a woman scream. I was ripped out of my daze when the yelling man had grabbed my arm and pulled me away from the window. We were running into the halls when I caught sight of a fire extiguisher, and I broke it away from the wall. I pulled my shirt over my face, but the smoke was choking me, my lungs burning and dry. Sweat dripped from my body and into my eyes, but I barely noticed it. There were red flames across from us, too large for the extiguisher to be of any use. We ran through one of the doors, to the hot outside almost collapsing. The sound of fire trucks came from a close distance, and we looked around wondering what to do. People were wearing their masks, clutching them to their dirty faces, more affraid now of the fire than any virus.

"Come on lets go down those stairs," my new friend said. We had to go past the fire lapping at the street from the other side in order get to the main road. Cars were dashing past quickly, until one stopped abruptly infront of us making us jump back slightly. 

"Holy shit Jessie," Rob opened the door, eyes red and breathing heavily. "Get the fuck in." Rob drove backwards, until we got onto the main road and then he turned the car around.

The yelling man was in the back. "Hey I don't know what your name is, but I have to go back home to check on my parents, they live near blackwoods," he said frantically. It was then that I noticed he had an acent and bright blue eyes. 

"Hey whats your name?," I asked simply.

"Rolo," he said quickly.

"Listen Rolo, that area is surrounded by concerete and houses. Im sure your parents are fine, maybe you should give them a call," I said in a calming voice.

He shook his head. "They are on the edge of the town, please can we go."

I looked at Rob. "Lets start driving to the middle of the town where it's safe then. Here take this and call your mum or dad." I handed him my phone. 

A darkness swirled in my gut, as I imagined my house in flames. "Rob I need to use your phone." I dialed my roomates number in and hesitantly pressed call. He picked up the phone quickly, his breathing was laboured. 

"Jessie, i'm so glad your safe," he stutered and stopped to catch his breath. 'The fire caught the house, please dont come back here, stay wherever you are."

The panic and darkness started spinning wildly. "Noah please tell me everyone got out." I heard a frantic meow over the phone and my heart lept out of my chest. "Is that Myan?!"

'Everyone is safe; he was outside near the street and I took him with us, he looked scared I dont blame the little dude," he paused. "Everything else is gone." Both of our ends went quiet.

"Do you have somwhere to go?," I finally asked. 

"Yeah, we're going to a friends appartment in the city. Are you going to your mum's?"

"We will be soon," I said.

"Alright well stay safe, and call me when you get there," he said, and then hung up. 

The road to Blackwoods was filled with smoke and soot, the skye was dark. Even the middle of the town was busy with people, those on their phones, and people yelling or talking with eachother. Rolos parents never picked up the phone, and we ended up getting closer to the fire than we wanted to. 

"There," Rob pointed. He's eyes were wide and his face was pale. "Oh my god, mum!," he yelled, jumping out of the car while it was still slowly moving.

An older woman in a floral dress ran up to him hysterically, pulling him into a hug. We couldnt hear what they were saying, but the older woman cupped his face and he started crying, keeling over. "His dad," I said outloud. I looked down at the small fire extiguisher, and back up at the sad scene, my gaze finally landing on the large cloud of smoke coming from behind the houses. I had to remind myself of how many horrors had happened throughout history once again, both to calm myself and then to remind myself that nothing was over yet. The heaviness that sat in the car with us was palletable, and we both got out to stand and watch the smoke like the others. 

There was a crack above us, and a few looked up curiously as if they had forgotten that the skye had existed at all. There was a silence that came as another crack came from further away. The air was hot and humid, it reminded me of my travels in Darwin. I looked up expecting trees, but I only saw black and white. Something landed on my face and I touched it, my fingers were wet. I looked back up to see more spitting of rain, landing amung us along with the ash. It started raining harder, and I happily let it glide down my skin, washing the soot away. Rolo stood with his mother further away, looking up with a small smile on his face. We breathed it in, the scent of the rain coming to cleanse us all. I think we were waiting, no we werent waiting, we were hopful.

Submitted: January 25, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Flambe. All rights reserved.

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