98 comments

Mar 20, 2021

Fiction Contemporary

That’s the thing about this city; once fire catches, it spreads faster than any of us can imagine.

It was just another ordinary day when it happened, nothing incriminating about the cream-colored clouds above our heads. The sprinkler ran in the backyard, fighting an ongoing battle to keep the wilting grass alive. 

Mother sat out on the porch swing, gently rocking back and forth as the tips of her sandals scuffed the dusty floorboards. A puzzle book opened in her lap and her sunglasses perched precariously on her slender nose.

After a day well spent, the sun was starting to fall back behind the forest, casting a long shadow across the lawn. 

As I lay on my back, watching the sky turn all shades of pink and orange, my eyes started to fall closed. A blissful peace surrounded me on these late summer afternoons, my worries all brushed aside by the gentle gusts of wind.

But with the wind came a different smell, a toxic one. The smell of burnt wood and destruction.

I didn’t understand at first. When the nauseating smell of thick smoke started leaking under the newly-painted fence, I was too caught up in my daydreams to notice.  

When Mother called to me, I didn’t think twice. 

“Camilla, come quickly, sweetheart,” she told me, panic making her words faint and breathy. 

I hopped up from my spot on the ground, pulling my degrading flip-flops back on my feet. After hours in the sun, the skin was already starting to burn. Maybe I should have listened to her earlier when she reminded me to put sunblock on.

“Honey, I need you to come inside with me. Right now.”

Why didn’t I hear how terrified she was with that very sentence? If only I had known how bad things could get in a matter of a few hours.

Inside, the radio echoed through the kitchen. Voices on edge, provoked by a dreadful type of anticipation. I let the wind blow the screen door closed and pulled out a stool at the kitchen counter to sit down. Snippets of the conversation registered, the fear finally beginning to reach me.

The forest is a desert, with hardly any rain in months. 

Dry wood burns faster. 

Extreme efforts are being taken to keep the flames from spreading. However, you should be prepared to evacuate, in case of the worst. 

I nervously twirl a strand of sun-bleached hair around my finger, watching Mother turn up the volume of the voices.

If I had a second chance, I wouldn’t stay home waiting. I would have left long before they forced us to. Here, a headstart could have made the difference between life and death.

About an hour later, the advice turned to orders, “Everyone must evacuate immediately due to the imminent threat of death.”

“Camilla, hurry along to the car and get inside. I’ll be there right away,” Mother told me, waving in the direction of the street. Cars lined up down the road, barely an inch between each vehicle. Our neighbors desperate to leave their homes before the fire caught.

I pulled open the rusted door of our van and sat down in the passenger seat, biting my lip as more and more cars joined the endless line. Not much time left at all.

Mother joined me minutes later, hurriedly jamming a key inside to start the engine. We inched up into the cluster, everyone else reluctant to make room. Both of us slowly becoming more conscious of every second that passed.

Seconds turned to minutes which turned to hours as we made our way across town and away from the menacing plumes of smoke. I turned back in my seat a few times, only to regret it. The mile-high inferno devoured any building in its path, like lava flooding our town.

Soon the line was barely moving at all, the vehicles in front of us keeping us trapped in place. The flames were starting to catch up to us, in the helpless position we were in.

Small fires were popping up on the side of the road as if the inferno was shooting at us. Crackling and burning, I couldn’t escape the sound.

Ash now thickened the air, hanging in a thick mist around us. Blurry headlights broke through the clouds, flames reflecting off mirrors and windows. The orange flames licked everything in sight, filling my nose with a sickening smell. 

I pulled my thin shirt up over my face, doing my best to filter the air. The coughing was contagious, everyone around us bending over as the dust-filled their lungs.

When the car filled with impenetrable heat, and we looked back to see fire inches away from our skin, it was already too late. 

I screamed as the flames licked my fingers and singed my hair, my voice blending in with the thousands around me. 

“Help us escape,” I shouted, praying someone will stop to save us.

“You run through the fire, it’s the only way out," Mother instructed, urgently.

I took her hand to run with her, but she untangled her fingers from mine.

“I can’t move, I’m not going to make it. Save yourself while you have the chance. I love you, darling,” she whispered, her voice suffocated and barely audible.

“Run, Camilla, and don’t look back,” she told me, shoving me out of the car as flames engulfed it. I caught a glimpse of her ice-blue eyes before the smoke blinded me.

My bare feet throbbed as I ran over the coals, my shoes lost in the struggle. Everything hurt; it hurt to breathe, it hurt to run, it hurt to scream. All I could hear was fear, in the shouts around me, in the voices in my head shouting at me to run faster, in the racing of my own heart.

My legs started to give out on me, leaving me to stumble into the piles of embers. 

Then, as quickly as it came, the pain disappeared. Leaving me numb in its absence.

And everything went black.

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98 comments

Maya Emerson
03:46 Mar 20, 2021

Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. This was rushed and bad, sorry, but I didn't want to miss a contest so yeah. xD

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Jinnie Levi
21:42 May 13, 2021

Shhhhhh Nooooo This is AMAZING! My heart literally stopped with the ending!

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W.W. Skybelle
14:35 Mar 20, 2021

THIS IS NOT BAD WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT The descriptions shined in this. You have a way with words. You had me hooked at the first sentence. The way you described the fire was so interesting to read. I could imagine it very clearly. The Minor Errors Police didn't have to stop by your house 👏🏾 I loved this story a lot! Great job :DDD (Also, if you didn't know already, I'm writing a Reedsycast for my 20th story. Would you mind filling out the form and checking out my latest story? It needs some work lol)

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Maya Emerson
20:06 Mar 21, 2021

Thank you! :) Yeah, I'll do that as soon as I get a chance! :)

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W.W. Skybelle
20:07 Mar 21, 2021

Np :) Ty! :D

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Radhika Diksha
14:09 Mar 20, 2021

Hey, hi. Loved it and don't dare to say anything about this story anything. It was so sweet and angelic. You have outdone yourself. Your change in writing style was progressive. Loved the whole plot. Keep writing.

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Maya Emerson
20:04 Mar 21, 2021

Thank you! :)

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Michael Boquet
19:07 Mar 24, 2021

What an exciting story! Great build up, especially after such a calm opening. My favorite part were the snippets of the news.

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00:48 Mar 21, 2021

Hey, at least you wrote it in time for a contest right? I can say the story felt a *little* bit rushed, but you did a good job establishing the conflict and making the story feel intense. So I don't think it was bad. The ending was good too!

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Maya Emerson
20:05 Mar 21, 2021

Yeah lol. It was very rushed. xD I did like one hour before the contest ended. Lol~ Thanks, though!

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Valerie June
18:33 Mar 20, 2021

Hello Maya! This is my first time reading one of your stories, but I already love your writing style. Even though you said you didn’t like this one, I thought it was amazing. It’s pretty hard for someone to fully capture my attention to read through an entire story, but congrats you did it! Your descriptions of the fire were so vivid and clear that even I felt anxiety while reading. I especially liked how you described the peaceful atmosphere before the fire came, kind of reminding me of the still before the storm.

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Maya Emerson
20:06 Mar 21, 2021

Thank you!!

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11:22 Mar 20, 2021

Ummmmm no don’t u dare say this is bad. I mean, I know u snatched the first line from the prompt, but that’s actually soooo gooooddddd Every line felt like... a mix of danger and intrigue. Almost poetic. Maya you genius, you blew us all out of the water again! Lol I have the Reedsy cast in my bio now, hehe

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Maya Emerson
20:04 Mar 21, 2021

Thanks :) Lol~ Yeah! Can't wait till the first part comes out! :)

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22:55 Apr 03, 2021

to answer your question I see a dark brown-blackish color with lines of yellow strange...I wonder why it's different?

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20:47 Apr 03, 2021

helloooooooo 1. sorry for breaking this perfect comment count ;) 2. in answer to your question: I see brown. and yellow. some pink. a bIt of orange. :]

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Tessa Takzikab
17:15 Apr 01, 2021

I saw your name around a lot, but I realized I hadn't, as far as I know, read any of your stories. So I searched, and I'm glad I did. If this story was a 'bad' one, I can't wait to read the others! It was very realistic, which made it even more sad. It's a beautiful story, and I want to know how and if she survived. How she rebuilt herself from the ashes of her former life. Maybe Camilla had to go live with relatives she never knew? Also, in response to your bio, your question is something I have always wondered about for other people. It...

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15:28 Apr 01, 2021

Answer: Black, but with bits of yellow. Now I sound weird. XD P.S. I totally agree with your note about the points situation! :D

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Keya M.
13:18 Apr 01, 2021

Hi Maya! This is actually the first time I've read one of your stories, but definitely not the last! So good! Your writing style is fabulous, and the descriptions *chef's kiss*. Just awesome! Keep writing, 'cause I'm waiting for your next storyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

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16:36 Mar 31, 2021

Maya are you leaving? I saw your bio so I got a bit worried

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Maya Emerson
19:23 Mar 31, 2021

I'm not right now :) Sorry e.e How are you? :)

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20:46 Mar 31, 2021

okay yay :) it's fine lol goody XD wbu?

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Maya Emerson
21:47 Mar 31, 2021

:) lol ooh goody :)) hehe I'm good, me and my brothers were having a party in the rain lol. :D

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21:56 Mar 31, 2021

:)) Party in da rainnnnnnnn 🌧🌧🌧🌧 I haven't seen rain in soooooooooooo long ;P XD

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Maya Emerson
22:59 Apr 01, 2021

Lol :)) Eep hehe :p Anything interesting happen today? :)

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I wrote a forgiveness story

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Maya Emerson
15:13 Mar 31, 2021

Oh nice, I'll read it. Hope you're doing okay. <3

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hey, i haven't heard from ya in a while so i wanted to check in <3 how are you doing?

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Maya Emerson
19:23 Mar 31, 2021

I'm pretty good :) How are you? With all the downvoting stuff~ <3

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Eh, so so. I was pranked really bad this morning, so that frazzled me a little. but otherwise better than others. <3

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Maya Emerson
21:46 Mar 31, 2021

Aw, what happened? <3 :)

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Someone dedicated an entire alt account to dissing aerin, and i spent like 3 hours standing up against this person, but the whole thing was a joke. :/ niether of us knew it was a joke, though

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Maya Emerson
00:09 Apr 01, 2021

Oh yeah, I saw that. The "Exposing Ya all" one? Oh, that sucks. :/ Nice of you, though. :)

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11:56 Mar 27, 2021

❤️‍🔥❤️‍🔥❤️‍🔥❤️‍🔥❤️‍🔥❤️‍🔥 Idk if you put that in your bio for me to comment if I read it but here you go lolol

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23:31 Mar 26, 2021

I love the quotes in your bio ;)

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Hi! can you fill out my second form? Also, what's going on with Isaac? He isn't responding and he doesn't have a bio

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Maya Emerson
22:18 Mar 26, 2021

Um sure. :) Oh he's fine, he's not leaving. Lol :)

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21:45 Mar 25, 2021

This. Was. So. Good! I love your first sentence. It set up the rest of the story. I thought your story telling was charming and I can’t wait to see what you write next!

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B. W.
15:28 Mar 25, 2021

How are you doing?

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Maya Emerson
15:39 Mar 25, 2021

Hi~ Eh kinda bleh lol hbu?

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B. W.
15:56 Mar 25, 2021

I've been good I guess, though have ya noticed how not that much people have been on here recently?

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Maya Emerson
22:17 Mar 26, 2021

Oh yeah, maybe because of all the downvoting problems?

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B. W.
22:43 Mar 26, 2021

Hm possibly, also have you seen the new prompts?

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Maya Emerson
22:44 Mar 26, 2021

Oh yeah, I have. I don't have many ideas, though. What do you think of them?

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