0.23 ; an unlikely celebration | ✔

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0.23 ; an unlikely celebration

I would call them dreams, but I feel as if I will never wake up. In which case, they can't be dreams, more like strange visions on the borders of my real life, weaved into one horrible and dangerous nightmare. The whole thing makes me want to wretch.

I watch my mother's death again and again; watch her fall in slow motion, through a wall of bright orange flames that lick at my skin and blur my vision. She crashes to the floor of the burning house, my burning house, and explodes into ash before my eyes.

The flames build up around me and the smoke rushes through my lungs, while hacking coughs rack my body until I'm shaking so hard I can barely stand. It's almost impossible to breathe; every sharp intake of air fills my chest with thick smoke that closes around me and clouds my eyes.

An assortment of tortured screams break through the flames, from all directions. I don't know which way to run first. The sounds hit my ears from all angles. I can't even comprehend where I am. The original layout of the house is very hard to figure out: every single surface is covered in the flames.

Heat scores across my back as a beam falls from the ceiling and lands a few feet away from me. I jump out of the way just before it crashes to the floor and falls through the ceiling below.

More screams assault my ears. And I still can't place them.

Chryssi? Bracken? Another person who is inexplicably in the house? I can't tell.

But I have to get out. That is my focus now.

Ignore the screams, Clove. Ignore them. Get out. Now.

Without even checking my way, I cover my face with my jumper and blindly run. It seems as if the flames are following me. I can't find a way out. Every time I find a possible doorway, it either burns down, the floor falls away, or something threatens to drop from the roof.

I have no escape.


I turn my head, uncovering my face completely for a second, and spot it. Window.

It's the only way.

Without even bothering to cover my face this time, I run. A beam attempts to catch me on its way down. No such luck: I leap over it as high as I possibly can, and clear it easily.

The flames still catch my heels, searing heat burning through my shoes as I run. Each step is painful, and filled with adrenaline: I must survive. I can survive. 

I will survive.

The daylight burns through the flames, shining through the orange a bright blue that assaults my eyes.

I reach the ledge, and throw myself out of the window.

I near the ground in slow motion, arms flailing and body thrashing, but everything seems impossibly slow, like I'm in a dream. Looking up towards the bright blue sky laden with clouds, one that I have missed so much. It feels like I haven't seen it years, exiled to the fiery hell of the house for so long that I've almost forgotten what it feels like to be alive.

I am like a bird in the sky, gracefully flying.

No. Not flying, falling. But they do say that, sometimes, you have to fall before you fly.

My body turns in mid-air, to face the ground.

And suddenly, I'm falling fast, impossibly fast, and my body's meet with the floor is mere milliseconds away.