Author’s Note: Hi! NOTE FOR ALL Y’ALL WHO GO ON LIKE SPREES: I personally think that likes are nice, but comments and critiques are much more helpful! I kind of hate it when people just go on random liking sprees. I’d appreciate it much more if you took the time to read and give feedback. Points are nice but at the end of the day, improvement is better :) OK, that’s over. I really hope you enjoy this one! It’s not really the prompt, as it’s not so much a rough patch as it is separation. This is also based on the Grenfell Tower tragedy. I’m not sure how big the Grenfell story was outside of the UK, but it was a tower block of around 130 flats/condos that caught fire in 2017. There were 72 confirmed dead and 70 injured. Why do all my depressed characters live in London? I swear, London isn’t even that depressing. Everyone go visit London after lockdown!
Friends Through Fire
A (Platonic) Love Story by Ana Govindasamy
Trigger Warnings/Disclaimers: Fire, Injury Details, Depression & Attempted Suicide
I’d always been jealous of you. But not in the mean way. I was proud, sure, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of envy. You were the cool, really-trendy, super-athlete. You had so much self-confidence. We were polar opposites, but we got on like a house on fire. Hell, the day we met, August 20th, I was so awkward that I had to get my other friend to introduce us to each other while I sat in the corner and read.
Then the fire tore us apart. Literally and figuratively. We were going to go out, that night. The way my heart dropped when they carried you out. You were stone-still. I screamed. Seeing you, the lively, athletic, vibrant girl, I’d known my whole life, since 1993, reduced to a shell. Floor 12, flat 8, Maia Davis, best friend and even better boxer. An almost dead body, covered in burns, oxygen mask jammed onto your face. A fighter reduced to but another nameless casualty.
I watched, disconnected, as it fell, as flames twisted their way downwards, destroying our home. Memories. Families. Friends. I watched as they drove away, you tucked safely away in the back, on a stretcher. I heard sirens, screams, the gently fierce voice of authority getting others to jump, to escape. I smelt the smoke, felt the warmth, felt the guilt over nothing. But I didn’t really see it. Didn’t feel it. Didn’t smell it. Everything was in a haze. It was like there was a veil of gauze over everything.
You were the only positive in my life. And you were gone too.
I don’t have coherent memories from that day. I remember a searing pain, unbearable heat and blazing light. I remember smoke. Feeling like I was drowning...or floating. I remember sirens. I remember the hospital. I remember the money lost to surgery. I remember the news broadcast. The documentaries. Not enough. Never enough closure. Never enough to compensate for the family, the memories, the lives lost. The pain. The burns. The trauma. It’s for life.
I still don’t feel the same. Think the same. I know more now. Whether for better or worse, I don’t know. I’ve changed. I’m not the Maia Davis you knew, the happy-go-lucky, loud, vibrant, best-friend you’d hung out with every day of your life. I wish I was. That Maia was cool, exciting, athletic. Now I’m Miss Davis. Reclused, depressed and well...not all there, to put it lightly.
We lost touch after I got discharged. I was busy trying to get back on my feet. You were halfway across the country. I guess we just forgot. I called you daily. But when you didn’t pick up, I stopped trying.
I guess I was jealous. Thought you were having fun. I mean, it was Cornwall. It was a sought-after holiday destination. It was my first time out of London. You were even with your family. Your parents. ‘How lucky you were’ I thought. And I was horribly misguided. I’m sorry.
I guess I had other things on my plate. Everything I’d lost in the fire held significance to my life. Everything I’d lost was tied to some other person. I’d lost my work laptop. Lost my job after that. Lost my clothes, my money, my house, when even then I was low on savings. I’m living on benefits in government housing. I’d lost everything. And I lost you. I lost my best friend.
Cornwall. It’s beautiful. Right? Well, it depends on the circumstances. Family holiday? Enjoy! Retirement? Have a great time! As your last resort because you just escaped a burning building and almost lost your lifelong best friend? You’re going to look at the cliff each morning and wish you were lying at the bottom of them, ready to be washed away by the waves. Hope you enjoy your stay!
I’d thought about it more than once.
Death on impact, right? It’d be practically painless. I’d hoped. I’d hoped and hoped. For what, I didn’t know. To stop thinking like that? To actually gather the courage to do it? To reverse it all, to go back, to warn you of the fire? Months and months of hoping, and I still didn’t know. But my life was like clockwork. I needed to get back into routine, mum said.
It wasn’t the good kind of routine. Wasn’t the, smoothly running, energising, life enhancing schedule you see every influencer have. It was the dreary, grey, going-through-the-motions routine. The one that’s hard to get out of for all the wrong reasons. Get up at 6, go back to sleep, wake up at 9, eat, shower, be out of the house by 1, walk around with no purpose like a martyr, limply flip through papers and scroll though websites, with my parents, looking for a job. Go on another walk. Be back home by 9. Eat. Sleep. Repeat til Sunday. Then you just have to cram Church somewhere in my obviously very tight schedule.
That clockwork routine was my life until I gathered the courage to to it. I snapped. I jumped. I fell. I survived.
Somehow. Somehow I failed. Somehow, I can’t even exit life right. And I was so close to the door too. I almost turned the handle. Almost turned the key.
I’d imagined everything that would happen, once the door closed behind me. The gravestone marked Kyra Williams. I’d imagined it all, and now it was just that. A fantasy. A distant dream, a figment of my imagination.
I’d thought about that pill bottle too many times to count. But I’d stared at the handful of pills in my palm ten times. I’d gotten them halfway towards my lips twice. I’d swallowed them never. Until now. But they didn’t pass my throat. Today, they lie in a wet mess on a paper towel in my kitchen bin.
Because I’d realised my reoccurring mistake only now. Why was I even trying this? Why?
I knew exactly why.
But I didn’t know why.
I couldn’t tell anyone. I didn’t have anyone to tell anyways. Apart from one.
I haven’t called you in three years.
But I think now it’s the time to.