Ashes Ashes

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I lay in bed, but sleep evades me. Images dance upon 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 with the exception of 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 yells 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. 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 knew in that awful moment that my family was gone. I remember wishing I could just fall to the ground and cry, but I knew that that was something I couldn't afford to do, I had 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.

"Where is There?" She adds, "Rae tell me," once she sees my face.

"That is not important." I do not tell her until we are one block away from Quinn Street, which had been four blocks away in the start. When we get there Xavier's car is parked on the curb and he is leaning against it with a worried look in his eyes. Rebecca runs over to him and catches him off guard with a hug which he returns. I walk over at my normal past and give him a quick hug of my own.

"What happened?" He asks me once we are all in the car. I am in the passenger seat, while Rebecca is in the back crying.

"Dad had been saying that something bad might happen soon and that he wasn't sure what. But, he wouldn't tell me why it was going to happen, though, only that I needed to be ready for anything and have a location in mind to take Rebecca to." I pitch my voice low so that only he can hear me.

"That's weird. I can't think of anything he had told me that would have equalled this, but he did tell me similar vague lines. I've been thinking about it a lot lately though I didn't think anything would happen this soon," he says.

"Well, that's helpful."

"Hey, you weren't thinking this would happen either."

"That's different, I'm fourteen and you're a professional killer."

"I always forget how old you are," he says grimly.


When I do fall asleep I relive that horrible night over and over in my head trying to come up with solutions that would change the outcome, but never seeming to find one.