Cuts and Burns

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           I lay in bed, but sleep evades me. Images dance on my closed eyelids.  I can almost feel the scorching touch of the flames from ten years ago.  Tonight is the anniversary of the night everyone in my family was murdered except for my sister and me. Every year it’s like this. My memory of it is crystal clear. I can hear my father yelling at me to get my little sister out of the house, while he left to go help my mother and my older sister get my six month old niece from her crib on the second floor.

            “Go! Get as far from here as you can! Do not stop for anything, especially not to call the fire department. Just Run!” My father yelled at my sister and me. He had been telling me for months now that something might happen and that he didn’t know what. He never told me why though.  Before I turn around he grabs my wrist. “When you think you are far enough from here call Xavier on my phone.” He says as he passes his cell phone to me. Xavier Thompson is my dad’s most trusted friend and his employer. The two of them were assassins and they each have taught me the tricks of the trade. I am the only one in my family who knows what my dad’s real job is.

            I knew there was no time to ask questions now, so I grab my sister, Rebecca’s hand and sprint to the back door, without warning.  She stumbles as she tries to keep up with me. When we were finally out the door she tries to come to a halt, but I pull her along.

            “No, Rae! I’m not leaving without the others.” Twelve year old, Rebecca cries.

            “Then you are a moron!” I shriek as I continue to run. Soon she realizes I’m not going to release my grip on her arm or going to turn around any time soon, so she decides to sprint as well, allowing me to run at full speed. We are great runners and both do cross-country as well as track and field.  When we reach the edge of the long field behind our house and are about to cross into the woods I look back and see our house encased in angry flames.

            I know in that awful moment that my family is gone and no one will come walking out to come help my sister and me. I wish I could fall to the ground and cry, but I know I can’t, I have to get my sister a safe distance away from here.  I pull Rebecca through the woods and come to a halt when we make it to the edge of a clearing. I stop to let Becca rest and to call Xavier.

            First I get Rebecca to sit on a fallen tree nearby before walking a little ways into the clearing so I can talk to Xavier without her hearing. I dial his number and wait for him to answer.

            “What the hell is your problem Mark? It’s two in the morning, I’m trying to sleep!” Xavier answers on the other line thinking it is my father.

            “Xavier it’s me, Rae. I need you to come and pick Rebecca and me up at Quinn Street.” I say.

            “What happened, Hon’?”  He asks concerned.

            “I’ll tell you when you get here.”

            “Okay I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”

            “Thank you.” I say. After I hang up I walk back over to Rebecca. She is sobbing so hard her body shakes with tremors. I sit next to her on the tree and wrap my arm around her. She clutches the front of my shirt in her fist and lays her head on my chest letting out all her tears. We stay like this for eight minutes not saying a word.

            I hate to make her get up and run again but I tell her this will be the end of it. “Don’t worry Becca; Uncle Xavier will be there to pick us up when we get there.” I say trying to soothe her.