55 comments

Oct 10, 2020

Drama

By the time I stepped outside, the leaves were on fire.

The air was thick with smoke and clumps of ash seemed to be falling from the sky. Not that the sky could be seen. It looked like it was midnight. The sun had been blocked by the smoke, great swirls of grey and black and the eerie glow of red as the fire came closer.

“Come on Abby, don’t just stand there!”, my dad cried as he ran past, the garden hose clutched in his hands.

A trickle of water squirted out of the end as he aimed it at the leaves.

The water supply was out.

Swearing in frustration, he whirled around to see me still standing in the same place, my teddy held tight in my arms.

I was really too old for him but when dad had told me to grab what was most precious, I hadn’t thought about it. Teddy with his ears tattered and one eye missing was coming with me.

Coughing, my dad pulled the top of his shirt up to cover his mouth. Sweat was pouring off of his face which was now blackened.

“Abby", he croaked," get in the car”.

My feet didn’t want to move, they seemed to have planted themselves on the wooden decking.

I could smell the trees as they started to burn, a strange mix of eucalyptus and gum. The summer had been too long and too dry. There was no moisture left in the ground and all the plants had died and were still lying around, waiting for when it was cooler in the autumn weather, and we’d be able to pull them out.

My dad, still coughing, scooped me up and threw me over one of his shoulders.

Our car, its black surfaces covered in ash and dust, stood waiting. Our worldly goods, or those that we could get to, were crammed in, the photos mingled with the souvenir fridge magnets, scattered cushions and dad’s fishing rods.

Grunting, my dad dropped me onto the dirt. I was heavier than when he’d last picked me up.

Fumbling in his shirt pocket, the material sticking to his skin, he found his inhaler and desperately took two puffs.

“I’ll be okay”, he said, with a small grin as he noticed me stare at him.

The fire was moving fast, I could hear it crackling as it burnt through everything in its path. The heat was indescribable. It felt as if some one had left the oven door open after cooking a roast.

The car’s engine was making a strange noise. Even though I knew nothing about cars, I knew this.

“Dad, what’s wrong?”, I asked.

He shook his head as multiple flies buzzed around his head, "Nothing, sweetheart. It’ll be okay”.

Without looking, he pulled onto the dirt road. All our neighbours had left hours ago when first told.

“Leave now’, they’d said, as they’d knocked on our door, ’ or stay and fight”.

“We’ll be okay”, my dad had said, indicating his garden hose.

The volunteer firefighters, exhausted and filthy, didn’t argue. They had others to warn.

I glanced back at the house.

The fire was now surrounding it, the leaves had turned to ash and the tree leaning against the house was now covered in flames.

As I watched, I saw the gutters, full of dry leaves, catch fire.

Feeling the blood drain from my face, I looked away. I didn’t need to see to know what was about to happen.

Teddy was still clutched in my arms. I was holding onto him so tightly that it was a good thing he only had one eye otherwise they would have both popped out of his head.

Dad’s eyes were squinting. The smoke was making them water and he’d left his glasses behind.

The car’s headlights were on but we couldn’t see through the smoke and the ash. It was only that dad knew the road so well, every dip and pothole, that we could still crawl along.

A large fire truck, its lights flashing red and blue, shot past us.

Dad swerved as far over as he could.

One of the volunteers looked back at us; his tired face looked surprised that there were still people here. I recognized his face. He’d been the one who had told us to leave in the first place.

The car spluttered and groaned. It seemed to shake and then, it stopped, we were just coasting along.

Dad swore loudly and hit the steering wheel with his hands. Dripping with sweat, his face streaked with ash, he tried to restart the engine.

It was dead, maybe the smoke had got to it.

Dad looked around.

The smoke was becoming thicker and the red glow was burning brighter. The fire was coming closer.

A kangaroo bounced past. I’d never seen one move so fast. It was lucky. The other animals wouldn’t be able to escape.

“Dad, what are we going to do?”, I asked, a tremble in my voice.

He didn’t answer. Instead he was staring at his phone, its screen cracked from where he’d dropped it.

“Damn", he said," no signal”.

He looked down at me.

“Should we try and run for it?”, I asked, feeling tears run down my cheeks.

Shaking his head, he reached out for me, the palms of his hands rough against my skin, ” No. If we leave the car, they’ll never find us. At least this way… we have a chance”.

Sobbing, I pulled at the seatbelt holding me back and scrambled over to him, squashing myself on his lap, teddy still clutched in my hands. The steering wheel made it a tight squeeze.

He wrapped his arms around me and buried his face in my hair, his tears wetting the back of my neck.

“I’m so sorry sweetheart”, he sobbed, his fingers digging into me.

“We’ll be okay dad", I mumbled," they’ll find us”.

He didn’t bother answering, I could feel his body shaking as he cried.

The smoke was getting thicker.

My throat felt dry and scratchy and my eyes were tired.

Maybe if I went to sleep, I’d wake and it would all be over. Maybe this wasn’t really happening?

Hugging each other, our eyes shut tight, we didn’t notice as the fire truck that had passed us returned.




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55 comments

Hello Vicky!! I just want to congratulate you for writing such an interesting and amazing story!! Great job! :)

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Vicky S
01:59 Oct 18, 2020

Thanks so much!

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No problem! You totally deserved it! Keep up the great work! :)

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Jim Snyder
11:00 Oct 18, 2020

Really loved this story! You definitely drew out the suspense and the fear. I have to admit that I may be one of the few who would prefer a slightly different ending, but I truthfully think the story is better served without the the final sentence. You do such a great job of keeping the story in Abby's perspective that breaking out of that perspective on the very last line feels somehow shifting. Now, for me, leaving it open-ended for the reader to decide on their own whether they lived or died is actually pretty satisfying to me. I a...

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Vicky S
19:44 Oct 18, 2020

Thanks so much for the comments jim

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C.J 🤍
03:04 Oct 14, 2020

Great story I LOVED it ...part 2?

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Jessica Tam
19:43 Oct 18, 2020

Really enjoyed the build-up of anticipation and suspense! It did spark feelings and emotions for what is going on in California with the fires. Especially being from the perspective of young Abby. You really captured the intense and scary imagery of the traumatic experience of the fire. Although the ending was pretty abrupt for me, it still left me feeling with some resolution. Overall, I really enjoyed it, and kept me on my toes!

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Vicky S
19:50 Oct 18, 2020

Thanks so much jessica.i really appreciate all the support

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Ray Dyer
17:02 Oct 13, 2020

Drawn straight from the headlines, and a horror-inducing personalization of it. I spent this entire story praying for this little girl to be all right. You drew her beautifully, including her awareness of what her dad could have done to avoid this and the fact that she would not hold it against him. She wasn't the perfect daughter; she was a flesh-and-blood daughter. I was staring at the screen without blinking by the end. I wanted her to be all right. The only thing that startled me was the kangaroo, which is creating a sort of nervou...

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Vicky S
19:48 Oct 13, 2020

Thanks so much ray.we had a bushfire a few years ago that came very close to where I live and the thoughts and feelings U have at the time stay with you, I think. I was going to write a different ending but I'm glad now I didn't!

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Princemark Okibe
19:21 Oct 11, 2020

I also forgot to add a suggestion. The word 'on' is not necessary in the sentence below [As I watched, I saw the gutters, full of dry leaves, catch on fire]. It should be, [As I watched, I saw the gutters, full of dry leaves, catch fire]. Best of luck and keep writing.

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Vicky S
19:46 Oct 11, 2020

Thanks so much for your comments

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Princemark Okibe
18:49 Oct 11, 2020

Wow. The danger was very real all through the story and the pacing was nice. Your story was well written though I did notice errors with your dialogue punctuation. I like you did have this problem but a fellow writer suggested a site for me to learn and I learnt loads. An example of such is [“Abby’ he croaked,’ get in the car”.] The full stop is meant to be within the quotation mark. This is the article https://www.authorlearningcenter.com/writing/fiction/w/character-development/6491/8-essential-rules-for-punctuating-dialogue---arti...

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Andrew Krey
16:31 Oct 11, 2020

Hi Vicky, I really enjoyed your story, the danger felt real, as did the panic and despair. The pacing was good, to maintain the tension till the final line - really glad the ending wasn’t left open ended. As the competition is still live, I’ve provided some suggested tweaks to the text below: “Abby’ he croaked,’ get in the car”. - quote marks confused: “Abby,” he croaked, “get in the car”. It was only that dad knew the road so well, every dip and pothole, that we could still crawl along. - I would reword this to: It was only because...

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Vicky S
19:45 Oct 11, 2020

Thanks for the feedback andrew

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Jovie Grant
01:37 Nov 19, 2020

YOU SHOULD WRITE PART 2!!!!!📖 What happens to all the fire, and Abby, and her dad? This was a great story, and I was on the edge of my seat until the last line. You're a great writer, you take a simple line like "By the time I stepped outside the leaves were on fire," and you turned it into a story with so much detail, I felt as though I was right there. I could smell the smoke, feel the heat, and see the terrified looks on people's faces. What an amazing story, thanks for writing it.

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Vicky S
02:36 Nov 19, 2020

Thanks so much jovie.im glad so many people have liked the story. I'd like to write a part two one day, maybe when a prompt that feels right comes up.

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T. S. Burkhardh
01:27 Oct 25, 2020

I was very impressed with this story. The only thing that tripped me up a little was that I wasn't sure when they left whether they were in the car or not or it they had abandoned it because of the engine having trouble. Of course I soon realized that they were in the car. Otherwise this story was amazing.

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Vicky S
04:11 Oct 25, 2020

Thanks so much

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Kurt Frazier
15:13 Oct 23, 2020

Well done. I could imagine myself in this father's situation. Being caught in a situation where you really don't want to believe that things could get worse and then finding out they have. The ending makes me want to read the next chapter.

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Vicky S
22:40 Oct 23, 2020

Thanks kurt

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Amy Sutch
16:37 Oct 22, 2020

Nice story.

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Vicky S
22:58 Oct 22, 2020

Thank you

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Amber Brownlee
19:19 Oct 21, 2020

Very suspenseful, very beautifully written. I was drawn in until the very end. I would love to read more of your short stories.

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Vicky S
19:43 Oct 21, 2020

Thanks so much amber

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Kylie Rudolf
19:15 Oct 21, 2020

So accurate. Living in Southern California, I know all about forest fires. You got everything right down to the last detail. Very well done!

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Vicky S
19:42 Oct 21, 2020

Thanks so much Kylie

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Raymond Kelly
14:04 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you! I really like it! Tha pacing is nice, although the Kangaroo threw me off (US). The suspense of the danger pulled me in, and I liked when the car stopped working, and then when she just gets on his lap and decides she should go to sleep, I thought they were going to die. If you had cut it off there, it would probably have been complete, but I do prefer happy endings to sad endings, so I'm glad the fire truck saved the day

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Kylie Rudolf
17:29 Oct 19, 2020

I live in California, I have seen, felt, and smelled fire. You describe it perfectly!

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Vicky S
19:42 Oct 19, 2020

Thanks Kylie

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Glory Williams
12:54 Oct 19, 2020

amazing! the story started out dramatic and ended with heartwarming faith! I love stories like these! the comfort the daughter and father gave each other made my day. may God bless you with even more awesome stories to make!

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Vicky S
19:45 Oct 19, 2020

Thanks glory. I love all the support I'm getting 😁

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Kaitlyn Haffner
11:50 Oct 18, 2020

I loved this story. It really captivated the struggles that Australia and California and other places face. Well done, you painted the scene beautifully.

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Vicky S
19:45 Oct 18, 2020

Thanks so much kaitlyn

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Ben Franklin
00:28 Oct 18, 2020

Awesome story, I loved it! The danger was very real. It's a very serious story, but the dad packing fishing gear as an essential was hilarious.

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Vicky S
02:02 Oct 18, 2020

Thanks Ben.

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Cal Carson
00:14 Oct 18, 2020

Wow, loved the story and felt very invested in the characters. Your descriptions are impeccable too. Where I live, we finally started going outside, we couldn't for weeks because of the smoke, so it's also relatable for me. However, as Lelani said earlier in the comments, I noticed in your story was that your punctuation surrounding quotation marks. Be careful of those next time, especially where the spacing and question marks and commas are concerned. But your writing is well done, keep it up!

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Vicky S
00:26 Oct 18, 2020

Thanks so much

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