It was morning. The suns first rays peeked through the bedroom window, tinting the walls a pinkish orange. Her heart skipped a beat as she rolled over and saw him laying there. This was her favorite part of the day. That first fifteen minutes where everything was fresh and new and perfect.
She turned on her side and wrapped her arms around him. He stirred.
“Sorry,” she whispered. “I didn’t mean to wake you.” And it was true. She liked watching him sleep next to her. Knowing he was all hers.
He rolled over so he was now completely facing her. Their noses were only inches apart. He smiled. It was a simple gesture, a familiar one, but this time it was different.
Her heart swelled. She had never felt so… complete. It was everything she had ever wanted.
And then it was over. In a cruel twist of fate she had unleashed the beginning of the end. It stirred inside her. Starting in her chest, a slow pulsating rhythm that spread throughout her body.
“No.” The word escaped her lips, soft at first and then louder with each repetition. “No, no, NO!”
His face, seconds ago filled with sleep-induced happiness, fell and confusion clouded his hazel eyes. “What is it?”
She couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. Her whole body tensed up as white hot flashes seared her from the inside. She knew she didn’t have much time.
“You. Have. To. Go.” It was a struggle just to get the words out. The heat was rising, radiating off her in waves.
“Go where?” He reached out to touch her face. The skin sizzled and he jerked his hand back in surprise. He looked over at her again. “I’m not leaving you.”
They still lay next to each other, entangled in the sheets. “You. will. die.” The pain was excruciating. She could feel it building up, burning its way to the surface. She had never been so scared. She always knew this would happen. A time bomb just waiting to go off. But she didn’t know when. Or how. Or where. She wasn’t ready. Not yet. Not when she had just found, well, everything.
“Then we’ll die together,” It was the last thing she heard him say. The pain was so intense it was deafening. Her whole body pulsated to the beat of a very hot drum. Boom. Boom. Boom. There was a blinding flash of orange light. It was silent at first and then a thunderous cloud of heat exploded in every direction and suddenly the entire house was in flames.
* * *
Hours later the fire was dwindling. The house was mostly gone, burnt to the ground, but the smoke still lingered. One passerby noticed it and pulled his car to the side of the long stretch of empty road. He called 911 and decided to wait for them to get there. But that wasn’t enough. He knew there would be no survivors, but something pulled at him. Some unknown force told him to get out of the car. So he did.
The sun had fully risen and the midday heat bared down on him as he stood in front of the smoldering rubble. He heard a noise. It sounded like a cry. His heart skipped a beat. It came again, this time much louder and from the center of it all. He ransacked the debris, regardless of the heat, pulling chunks and pieces of concrete and board until he found where the noise was coming from. The world stopped for a second. He sat back on his heels and looked into the sky, a single tear sliding down the length of his face. This must be what miracles felt like.
A baby, pink skinned and untouched lay beneath the ashes of the fallen house.
This was done for the FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: RISE OF THE PHOENIX over at Terribleminds.com
I didn’t do this story justice. It was beautiful in my head. Perfect. But as I wrote it, I realized that I could never fully convey the story within the story. To make matters worse, I got it confused with another challenge I was working on and instead of giving myself 1,000 words, I tried to squish it down to 500. By doing that, I cut a lot of the original writing and in the end it turned into something choppy and forced and I just gave up. And now, even if I were to start over from scratch, it’s too jumbled in my brain. I have a headache, my neck hurts and now I just feel kinda nauseous. It’s like I get motion sickness when I write for too long. Ugh.