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Fiction Romance

“If you wannabe my lover…” “Make it last forever…” Grace belted as she lathered her hair in shampoo. Nostalgia had crept up on her this morning as she thought back to her teen years when it was cool to have your own Spice Girl name; Cinnamon Spice was Grace’s. “Who doesn’t like cinnamon?” She had told her friends. It was also the color of her hair. When she would cry to her mother that her hair was boring brown, her mother would look at her and say “your hair isn’t boring.” “It’s the color of cinnamon, and I think it’s beautiful.” Her mother’s words had stuck with her through the years. Grace had come to love and even be proud of her long and thick cinnamon hair. 

               Saturdays were her favorite. Usually Grace slept in, but shortly after Aiden left for his run, Grace got out of bed. She wanted stay in bed longer to no avail; her body was awake. On Saturday’s, she could luxuriate in the hot steamy water without being late for work, although today, Aiden would be disappointed that she showered without him. Grace had some remorse for breaking routine, but she couldn’t start her day if she wasn’t clean. 

               Grace rinsed her hair and shut the water off. The bathroom was steamy as always, but it seemed foggier. Something was wrong; was that smoke that she smelled? Quickly, Grace threw on her t-shirt and sweats. Her eyes were beginning to burn. Praying for a miracle, she touched the doorknob. It wasn’t hot yet. Was she panicked for nothing? Did Aiden come back early and burn something? She knew, however, that she must proceed with caution.   

               Aiden breathed heavily. “Almost there.” He said to motivate himself. The air had a crisp chill to it, but Aiden was warm from his exertion. The McAllisters lived at the end of a quiet street with few neighbors. Trees lined the sides of the road. Their leaves painted in hues of red, orange, yellow, and brown. Aiden had almost completed his 5-mile run, or jog, if he was being honest. He was in shape as his job required him to be, but he certainly couldn’t keep up with his high school self. Back in his glory days, Aiden was the captain of his track team and its champion. Grace would always tell him to stop acting like he’s old. Remember, she would say, 30 is the new 20. Aiden rounded the corner and the stench of smoke hit him immediately. He couldn’t quite see his house yet. He quickened his pace because the pit of his stomach told him what his brain was refusing to admit. When his eyes confirmed his worst nightmare, he ran faster than he has ever run in his life. Adrenaline coursed through his veins.  

“Gracie! Gracie!” He screamed.

The house was engulfed in flames. The fire danced and continued to grow before Aiden’s eyes. The color of which mimicked the color of the beautiful trees, taunting him. Its heat radiated, but Aiden hardly noticed in his bewilderment. The conundrum of being trained to help other people in crisis, but not on how to help himself hit him hard. Logic told him that he should wait for the fire department. His heart, on the other hand, told him to run inside. For what little good it would do, Aiden pulled his shirt over his face leaving only his eyes uncovered.    

Grace looked around the bathroom. She dampened a washcloth in the sink and held it up to her nose and mouth. There were no other exits, no windows, no second door. Grace was trapped and she knew she was going to have to attempt an escape. She turned the doorknob and creaked open the door. A wall of thick gray smoke greeted her, so she dropped to the floor on her hands and knees crawling through their bedroom. It was hard to keep the washcloth around her face because she needed both hands to crawl. The washcloth slipped and fell to the floor. She lost it, and she didn’t dare turn around. The smoke wasn’t easily outsmarted and soon found her even though she stayed low. It forced its way into nose and mouth irritating and burning her lungs; she coughed struggling to breathe.

Aiden burst through the front door. “Gracie! Gracie!” No one answered. Flames were everywhere. The crackling resonated within him. He carefully stepped over debris as he made his way to the kitchen. Maybe something in the kitchen caught fire. He continued searching and calling as he stumbled around the first floor of the house playing keep away with the fire. When he found the living room, he came too close to the flames. “Ah!” He cried as it licked the cuff of his pants. Aiden was trained to remain calm, and it was a lifesaver at this very moment. Immediately, he stopped, dropped, and rolled. As soon as he was fire free, he continued moving. When he couldn’t find Grace, he ascended the stairs.  

Grace had been crawling and crawling; it felt like forever. She was becoming increasingly disoriented as she tried to navigate herself to the stair landing. This is it. She thought. This is how I die. I’m going to succumb to the smoke. Aiden had told her that most people don’t die from burning to death in a fire; rather, they die because of smoke inhalation. OH Aiden! I hope he knows how much I love him. That was the last thought she had before her world went black.  

Aiden was growing weak, but he kept on fighting. At the top of the stairs he turned left into their bedroom. The smoke was thicker up here. He couldn’t see, but he kept trekking. Suddenly, he tripped over something. It sent him crashing to the floor. Before he stood up, he felt around trying to figure out what caused him to fall. As his hands touched her, he knew. “Gracie!” “I found you!” “Wake up Gracie!” “You’re going to be okay, love. I will get you out of here.” He slid his arms under her and picked her up. Then he swung her over his shoulder. She moaned, half conscious. “Gracie, you’re making noise. That’s a good sign. Hang in there!”  

Gracie was a petit woman, but her weight on top of Aiden’s weariness made the descent down the stairs seem impossible. He took them slow enough to not topple over, but fast enough because, well, the house was on fire. He made it out the door. Relieved, he took a long deep breath of fresh air. The fire department and EMS had just arrived.  

“Aiden, is there anyone else in the house?” One of the firefighters asked.  

“No, Brian, it’s all clear.” Aiden responded.  

At this time, two EMT’s made their way toward him with a stretcher. Aiden laid Grace down and began checking her vitals. The three of them wheeled her to an ambulance. Aiden tried to hop in with her but was gently held back by one of the EMT’s. 

 “Aiden, we’ve got this.” She said. 

“No. I must help her.” He said.  

“You need to be checked out yourself.”  

“I’m fine, Vanessa.”

“Don’t be stubborn. You’ve inhaled a lot of smoke. Go let Tommy check you over.” She pointed to another EMT who was standing next to a second ambulance.

“I’m not leaving Gracie.”

“Ah okay, fine, you can come with us, but let us help you too.”  

They stepped up into the ambulance and closed the doors as it lurched forward. Vanessa put an oxygen mask on Grace and gave one to Aiden too. To her surprise, he put it to his face. He held the mask in one hand, and Grace’s hand in the other. Grace stirred and opened her warm hazelnut eyes. She attempted to sit but was stopped by a gentle hand. 

“Grace, it’s Vanessa. Don’t try to sit up. Just relax, you’re doing great.” Vanessa reached under Grace’s shirt and attached the leads to the heart monitor. Then, she took Grace’s blood pressure. After a few more moments of assessing Grace she said, “everything is looking good.”

Aiden squeezed Grace’s hand. “Did you hear that babe? You’re going to be just fine.”

For the first time since the incident, Grace spoke. “I love you Aiden.” 

“I love you too dear.”  

October 24, 2020 02:30

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8 comments

Andrew Krey
19:09 Oct 31, 2020

Hi Kate, I really liked your story, the switching of the POVs was effective, creating tension until the viewpoints got closer and closer and then finally merged. I also thought it was a nice touch that her last thought before passing out, was then linked to the end.

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Kate Winchester
20:41 Oct 31, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Grace Larson
14:43 Nov 29, 2020

Hey! I know I saw this story super late, but I couldn't resist the title:) And I'm so glad I read it!! Very absorbing story with a great amount of tension at the end that left me sitting on the edge of my seat until Aiden and Grace got out of the house:) Also great depiction of their relationship - super sweet and totally made my day! Great job on this story and I would love to see more like it!

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Kate Winchester
18:26 Nov 29, 2020

Thank you! Lol, it’s especially great that you liked it. I appreciate the feedback!

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Gip Roberts
20:42 Nov 10, 2020

Really nice. It started out simple, then the descriptions grew in complexity as the plot developed, luring me into the story. And it was nice to see a story about a couple who actually gets along too.

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Kate Winchester
03:02 Nov 11, 2020

Thank you. Glad you liked it. 😊

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Elizabeth Inkim
21:26 Oct 31, 2020

Great story, I really enjoyed how you added in the fire element. The duel POVs carried the plot very well. After reading your story I think that you might enjoy some of mine, particularly "A Rose By Any Other Name" and "Dum Spiro, Spero". They're a sort of duology and I would love to know what you think; also they're romances.

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Kate Winchester
21:56 Oct 31, 2020

Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. I will be sure to check yours out!

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