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Creative Nonfiction Sad Suspense

By the time I stepped outside, the leaves were on fire. I don’t just mean with the colors of oranges, yellows and reds or the way they cover the ground and light up the area around them. I mean each leaf falling towards the ground, lighting up in a bright glowing flame of fire. They look like candles floating slowly down to the cold ground. As they land on top of ashes, they themselves would burn up and fall apart into soot. It covers the decaying grass as winter begins to come upon us. 

This happens every year. Always when the leaves begin to change. When summer turns to fall. You have to watch out because you will get burned. My mother never let me outside this time of year growing up. We don’t get a thicker layer of skin until we are older. A child’s skin getting burned could cause an infection and make them sick. Even now that I’m older, I chose to stay inside as much as possible. Adults may be able to handle the burns better, but it still hurts. 

I walk out to my car, careful to avoid the flames falling down around me. I wipe the ashes from the handle, which turns my fingers black. I look at them in disgust before wiping it off on my jeans. Thus leaving a nice black-gray mark on the faded blue. I slide on to the leather seat, step on the brake and start the car, slamming close the door. I have to turn on my wipers to get rid of all the soot that has piled up from the night before. It doesn’t wash away right away. It mixes with the water, turning into mush. I keep adding windshield washer fluid until the ash starts to subside and wash down the side of the fender. I’m going to need a car wash. This would be the third one this week. 

I put the car in drive and leave out the driveway and onto the abandoned road. The area I live in is filled with trees. All taking their time to let go of their leaves. The ones that have broke free slowly float down. Any that come close to where I’m driving get blown out from the current I make. I watch as the blackened specks fly past me. Disintegrating before they reach the back end of my vehicle. Stray leaves take flight around me. A few land on my windshield, burning up before my eyes. 

I head to the outskirts of town. To a part of town not many would dare go to this time of year. One place that is my favorite. It’s always beautiful any time of year. If you go at the right time and can watch the sunset. The whole valley seems to glow. In fall the valley looks like a giant bonfire. The fire from the leaves burning brings a movement to the heart of the area. Gleaming with a scorching inferno that will melt your soul. Many get burnt or worse coming to view the spectacular show. I happen to know the best spot to go. You still feel the heat, but your less likely to get burnt. 

I park just outside the grove and I sit for a moment. I stare out the window at the burning death that falls around me. The usual gravel path leading in is covered ash. The charcoal dust leads into the flaming tunnel of trees. After I get out, I go to my trunk and pull out my fire-resistant umbrella made from bunker gear that firefighters use. This is how I get to and from my spot in the valley without getting too burnt. 

With my umbrella safely up and over my head, I head in towards the dense woods. The ashes stick to my shoes as I walk through, turning them a deathly gray. Dust rises up as I walk, causing me to begin coughing. I wave the dust out of my face, or attempting too. After doing this so many years, you’d think I’d have grown accustomed to it. The dense forest is brightly lit as I continue to make my way in deeper. Leaves float past me with a trail of smoke following the flame. It’s a beautiful sight. My eyes wonder after it as I stroll along the trail. When I turn to look back, smoke is filling the tunnel. I try and hold back my coughing, but the smoke is to much. This is very unusual. The smoke is never this thick. It makes me wonder if my worst fear is coming true. 

I pick up the pace and start running towards my destination. Burning embers rush past me, hitting me in the face. I can feel my skin beginning to burn. It doesn’t stop me though. I continue to run. The heat starts to become unbearable. It feels as though my skin is going to melt away, but I need to keep going. I put my umbrella in front of me to help with the heat. I have to slow down, the smoke is to much. I know I’m getting closer to the valley, it’s taking longer than I had planned. 

My lungs are slowly filling up with smoke. It’s getting harder to move. I can’t even see the clearing that I know is coming up. Usually it’s open and clear, except for the flames that arise from each leaf that would be slowly falling to the ash covered ground. Where new life would soon begin to grow after the snow fall. The area seems to brighten the smoke up, telling me I’m in the clearing, but its worse than my wildest dreams. The entire valley is engulfed in flames. Not just the leaves, the trees, bushes, plants, everything is set a blaze. I try to hold back my cough, but I can’t. It tears through my lungs and up my throat. Tears start to slide down my cheeks as I watch my favorite place burn to the ground. Soot and embers fly around me, ashes hit me in the face and arms. I don’t have the energy to wipe them away. I can feel the small pieces burning my flesh. 

The fire continues to burn as I fall to my knees. I can’t stop staring. My beautiful world is burning. A place I felt was like a second home. There is no way to make it to the spot I always go to. I’m stuck at the front of it all. The flames seem to get bigger, moving closer to where I’m standing and I realize I need to leave and quickly. I try to run, but my legs won’t let me. I’m panting hard, its only getting harder and harder to breath. The fire is spreading and I can’t seem to move quick enough. A root comes out of nowhere and I trip. Soot flies into my face and up my nose as I hit the ground. If I wasn’t having a hard time before, I really am now. My ankle hurts from the fall and I’m not sure I’ll be able to get up. 

From this moment alone, I don’t think I’ll be getting out of these woods alive. The fire has grown to large for me to battle against the heat. I can feel the burns forming on my skin, melting it. My body feels as if I have been lit on fire as well. I try and get back up, but once I take a step my leg folds under me. My ankle can’t hold my weight. I realize my predicament and I sit there. Waiting for the fire to engulf me. To claim me. I think about everything I’ve done in my life. I think about my family, who may never know what happened to me. I don’t tell people I come out here. I think about how I won’t show up to work on Monday and no one will know why. Who knows if anyone will find me. I’ll already be burnt to a crisp. They might not even be able to identify my body. Who knows if they will find my car. I’m going to miss everyone. I didn’t want to go out like this, but there is nothing I can do. The flames grow closer and I try not to think of the pain. There is nothing left for me know, except to sit here and wait. 

October 12, 2020 18:23

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