The flames roared around me as my lungs fought against the smoke penetrating my air ways. I coughed into my hands, my blistering, burned hands, as pieces of spittle flew through my cracked lips. I peered through the thickening smoke, the walls around me blacked and broke, thick smoldering pieces falling around my crouched body.
Ember sparks flew with each piece that cracked against the floor. In this horrible moment, I was thankful I had shaved my head two nights ago. The idea of my skull burning by now made my heart skip a beat. I shook my head to clear the thoughts.
My eyes burned as the dry hot air forced itself closer to me, forcing me to feel every sizzling bit of heat as my vision blurred. I fell to the ground, my knees to weak to hold up my frail body. I was coming apart.
I forced myself to lay on my back, my lungs choking on the tendrails of smoke invading my chest, each breath harder to force down than the last. My mind ran wild with thoughts, with regrets, with revenge, and I wasn't even able to scream for help.
I knew I was going to die here. I was going to die all alone, my body burning to a crisp before anyone would be able to stop the fire. The police wouldn't even be able to tell what I was before I was burned, let alone who I was.
My death, like so many others, would be ruled an accident, a string of bad luck. My name would be erased from the memories of everyone as time passed, a smudge on a piece of paper. No one would know my death was actually a homicide, a plan made up with murder.
I blinked back the steaming tears, watching as the roof collapsed in chunks around me. There was nothing but an endless night sky peering through the holes in the roof, the same endlessness I was about to be welcomed into. I was still going to die.
A beam holding half of the remaining roof broke free from the structure and fell towards the ground. Time seemed to slow as I watched the beam fall, pieces of wood flaking off as it came towards me.
I closed my eyes, accepting that this was the end, that no matter the strength I could muster up in these last few seconds, it still wouldn't be enough. There was always going to be another beam, another burning chunk of house to collapse upon my already weakened body.
My mouth opened as a raspy scream tore through my chest as the beam slammed into my arm. I fire a hot nail embedded itself into my upturned wrist, the skin parting away like soft butter. My blood felt as if it was boiling as it pooled around my wounded wrist, the sound of my skin sizzling filling my ears as I my body gave into the darkness.
My body screamed in agony, every nerve in my body firing off. I tried to open my eyes, but they were stuck closed, a sliver of sunlight was the only thing that came through. I lifted my arm, rubbing away the soot and ash from my face. I breathed once, twice, and then two more times. Where was I?
I tried to push myself up, but white hot pain shot throughout my body, the lingering effects still tingling in my left wrist. I turned my head to look at what had caused the pain and my breath got stuck in my throat.
Harsh sharp snippets of memory came barreling into my mind as I started to remember what had just happened. A piece of burnt silver shined underneath the crumbling pieces of wood that laid upon my arm.
My stomach lurked as I watched the nail lift and lower again and again into my wrist with each slight movement that I made. Surrounding the hole in my wrist was a dark cakey puddle, far too large for me to be comfortable with. I had to look away.
I forced my eyes to look at anything else, anything to help me forget my wounded wrist. The first thing I noticed was that the structure of the house was nothing but a slab of concrete and a few short blackened posts. Around me was nothing but clumps of debris and ash.
The second thing I noticed was the crowd that had gathered around the police tape surrounding what had once been my old home. Lights flashed again and again in my direction, the sounds of all the harsh voices coming into my ears muffled. I didn't understand what was happening.
The third I noticed, yes the third, was two pale hands gripping a chunk of the police tape as she stood in front of the ever-growing crowd. Her face was set in stone, her lips in a sharp straight line. I almost wanted to laugh seeing her like this, seeing her suffer like she had me suffer. I shook my head slightly with a chuckle.
Of course she would show up, especially to something like this. I glanced back over at the crowd, watching as the police pushed back cameras and microphones, the anger apparent in their body movements. She didn't move though, her body unfazed by all that went on around her.
She wore a black dress as if she had planned to be at a funeral rather. Her pure white hair was tucked in a loose braid underneath a wide-brimmed hat. I rolled my eyes when I noticed the yellow ribbon tucked underneath the cuff of her sleeve. My favorite color.
Why hadn't I guessed this before? She'd been there the entire time, through more bad than good. I had thought she was saving me, giving me strength I thought I had needed, yet all along she was the reason behind it all.
I tilted my head back just enough to see her face over the ash piles around me. Her gray eyes met mine within a second. It felt like eternity until she looked away from me, her brows set in a deep frown.
She turned herself away from the police tape and stood still for only a moment before walking briskly away. Where she had just been standing was the yellow ribbon, no longer a cheerful bow. I closed my eyes as a single tear threatened to spill over the brim.
I had just looked my murderer and the love of my life in the eyes.