By the time I stepped outside, the leaves were on fire. I gritted my teeth, the feeling of heat as if it was already burning me. I was a good kid- why had SHE been put on this duty? Why was SHE trapped? Why was SHE probably going to die?

At birth Nova was abandoned in the woods by her teenage parents, who most likely hoped she would starve or get eaten. But, instead, A small society of loving people found her, nursing her until she was strong enough to survive on her own.

Though, Nova grew to love them like her own big family, and she was double thinking of leaving. All the people who were living in the house deep in the woods helped around the facility, caring for the limited animals, the farms, cleans, and more.

Her first chore had been to feed the chinchillas. Five year old her had skipped ahead of the other child and adult assisting her. She had curled her fingers around the cage wire, staring at the gorgeous grey creatures.

When the easy chores had started to tilt into hard chores, she got things like milking the cows and what not. Her first hard chore must've been when she had to clean out the many barns with a group of children her age, and, of course, at least one adult.

It was a hard task, clearing out the manure and straw hay, binding extra hay together. Nova had used her rake ferociously, furiously desiring proper attention from her mentor Eruda, who followed her everywhere when tasking. She had finished first, watching with pure satisfaction as the others continued.

And then there was the great chore, the hardest of all. Containing The Flame. Eruda had marched her to the huge facility for special cases, steps echoing down the hall as they proceeded to the main room.

Her mentor swung open the door, gesturing to a small glass case where a tiny flame flickered inside. It sat on a podium, a few desks with blinking lights scattered around the edges of the room.

Nova hurried forward, gazing in awe at the small, glorious mix of reds and oranges. Eruda smiled, moving her backward. "You will be doing this task alone- everyone may say it's hard and long, but you need to simply watch it. If it gets any bigger- or smaller - then use this."

The adult shuffled to a blinking dial that was huge and red. "If the flame EVER gets further than the glass case, click this. Do ONLY click this if the flame is getting out of control." Eruda moved Nova to stare straight into her own eyes. "You understand?"

"Yes, Eruda. What do I do if it gets bigger or smaller?"

"Excellent question. This button-" (A white button) "- sucks oxygen out of the case, if it gets bigger. And this button-" (A blue button) "- infuses a little oxygen in. For if it gets smaller." She nodded proudly, moving back to the flame.

"This is your first task alone. If you need any help, A message bubble like button against a white background.

Eruda had left a while, and she had only needed to suck out a little air once. Nova was bored, and she watched the flame as it flickered smaller. Jumping up, and feeling important, she pranced to the button board and smashed the blue button.

There was a loud whirring sound, and the flame became bigger, growing and growing as if oxygen was still getting infused- WAIT. The glass case shattered, and she stared at it. What was she supposed to do- had she already failed her task?? What colored button was the emergency button again-?

Panicking, she smashed the blue button once more. GOSH DANG IT NOVA! The red and orange flames licked down the floor, and she pounced to land on the red button.

A loud blaring sound went over the emergency speakers, red lights flashing in the facility. Would it be good to suck OUT oxygen? No, she needed to get out. The flames were spreading out the door, and she hurried over, jumping over the reaching twirls of red and orange.

By the time she stepped outside, the leaves were aflame. Footsteps thudded from nearby. Thank goodness more people were here. Someone - she couldn't tell who- was in a thick fire destroying suit, gesturing with a crazed aura.

"I- I'm sorry! I failed-.. I-I clicked the blue button on accident, and-"

A strong hand patted her shoulder. "Na, it's fine, kid. It was just a test."

Nova sat in her room, face planted into her pillow. It was all fake. Then- how did she feel the heat on her face, the flames burning her legs. How did the flames destroy so much? Had they purposely and knowingly tried to hurt her?

No, Eruda wouldn't have done that. Right? She screamed into her fluffy pillow, tears pouring down her face, melting into the cotton of her bedding.

Could she trust her family? Family trusted each other, didn't they? Then why had they done that? If it was all set up, why- why? Why had they tested her limits, when she could've gotten seriously burnt?

Perhaps they thought it was all fun and games. Perhaps her feelings didn't matter anymore. She sat up, raising her fist and punching it into her pillow. Nova glanced at her window. Morning. Perhaps she could run away.

Not those silly kid run away schemes, but- she knew survival skills. She knew work skills. She could find a place in the world for herself, living by her own rules.

Sliding off her bed, she dragged out a hidden suitcase she had found dumped in the woods out of her closet. She had clothes, she could sneak into the kitchen for a bit of food before she trekked out.

Yes. She was doing this. her dream was becoming a reality. Nova stood, taking the majority of the clothes, folding them, and fitting them into her bag. She didn't take anything else from her room.. Only a thick jacket.

She was doing this, she was running away, and she was never coming back.

October 16, 2020 03:24

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.