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In the very heart of the fire – I could see it clearly – there stood a figure. I thought for one mad moment that it must be my husband, and that he must be burning to death. But the figure stood there, quite calm, quite still, completely unaffected by the furnace-like blaze surrounding them. I could see them through the open doorway that, for some reason, wasn’t burning. The fire did not come that far.

Perhaps I should be clearer. This was not a figure made of flames. This was the outline of a figure where the bright flames left a darker gap. And the gap went all the way to the bricks of the far wall. It was almost as if there were a person-shaped tunnel running through the whole infernal room, from front to back. And there was nothing there to burn, I was sure. This room of our house was totally empty. It was the air itself that seemed to be on fire.

The light from the burning room scorched into the backs of my eyes. How long before the fire spread? How long before our beautiful old wooden dreamhouse was razed to the ground? But still I didn’t turn and run. Still I stared into the light.

I knew this figure. With every passing second, I was surer of that.

I knew her, and I knew she had a message for me.

As I watched, she put her left hand out and beckoned me towards her. Of course she was left-handed! – I’d known that all along.

It was madness but I felt certain that she wouldn’t let me come to harm. It was a while since I had started to trust her. But did I trust her enough to trust her with my life?

Of course I hesitated. Nobody wants want to die like this. Nobody wants to be burnt alive. What I was about to do was against all reason.

Reason, though, was something I had given up on or which had given up on me quite some time before.

I nodded to her.

The figure beckoned me again.

I moved forwards, to the edge of the flames.

I could see her better now. My eyes seemed to be getting used to the bright light. Was that a smile I could make out among the flames?

With a final thought for my husband, my children, I stepped over the threshold – into the heart of the burning room.

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