Chapter 1

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If you copy my story, I will find you. And you don't want that. So if you're going to use my story anywhere ask my permission and credit me. Other wise I'll be forced to hunt you down.

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Dear Katherine,

You have done your best to be the mom I don't have, but it just wasn't the same. I will always be grateful for you taking me into your home, but I can't deal with myself anymore. You did all you could for me, and this isn't your fault.

And I know you probably don't want to hear this, but David doesn't work late, ever. I'm really sorry you had to find out this way.

Love you,

Emily

I finished off the last letter, and probably the hardest to write before I get into bed.

Katherine really had tried to be there for me, but as someone who grew up behind a white picket fence her whole life, she just didn't know how to handle me.

Tomorrow was my 18th birthday, three days before the seven year mark of my family's death. And since the rest of my siblings didn't make it to adulthood, what right did I have?

I turned off the lights and rolled into bed. I knew I wasn't going to sleep well, I haven't in years. But for the first time in forever, I didn't dread waking up the next morning like I usually did. If everything went the way I wanted it to, I would never have to wake up again after tomorrow morning.

My eyes slowly fell shut and I fell into a deep sleep, the little smile on my face fading as the nightmare started.

It was the weekend after my 11th birthday, and I was having my birthday party. The big tree house in our backyard was built on an oak older than my dad was. My parent's window had just gone dark and we were talking about movies and boys when Diana saw a shadow in the yard.

We all just laughed it off because we had been talking about scary movies, we said it was probably just a squirrel. Diana laughed along with us, but she still looked on edge. She closed the blinds just in case, and we went back to talking.

A warm glow started to come through the blinds, but it was no where close to sunrise. I ran over to my window and threw open the curtains. I sat and stared for nearly a minute in shock before it started to set in, and I threw myself down the ladder.

My house was set on fire at 11:32 P.M.

As soon as I saw the fire, I told my friends to call the police and ran for the doors.

I smashed the doors open and tore through the house, stopping only to open my dog's kennel and let her out, hoping she would find her own way out of the inferno.

I tried to run upstairs, but smoke was already clouding the house, and I couldn't see through my watery eyes as I kept coughing. Right as I opened the door leading to the upstairs bedrooms, the first ceiling beam fell.

I screamed and jumped away from the now blocked stairs. I couldn't climb over it, so I just started shouting, having coughing fits in between.

I couldn't stop thinking about my little brother upstairs, all alone. He was only six, and I could hear his screams from where I was, but there was absolutely nothing I could do to help him, and my tears started to fall as the panic set in.

I heard sirens in the distance right as I was starting to get dizzy. My house was falling apart around me, so I ran out, taking all the intact items that I could.

I grabbed my mother's phone which she had left to charge on the kitchen counter. I grabbed my little brother's wooden toy soldier that he left on the coffee table, and my older sister's favorite romance book.

I was really hoping that they had jumped out the window, and would smile seeing that I brought their favorite belongings as I ran into their open arms and we all started to cry.

But I learned very fast that a lot of hopes were only made to be crushed.

The only thing I saw when I made it out the back door was one of my friends holding my whining dog as the rest of them stared at me with teary eyes.

My family didn't make it out of the fire.

My mom had burned to death. My little brother had never even made it out of first grade. My older sister would never get to go on that date she had been ranting about to anyone who would listen.

My family was gone.

I looked up to see a fire fighter that said his name was Grant, and he said that I was safe as he led me and my friends off to the ambulance. My vision started coming and going, and all I remember from the rest of that night was that no matter how hard they fought me, I never let go of that little wooden soldier.

I woke up breathing hard and looked at my bedside table. I grabbed my mom's phone and turned it on, looking at the pictures on the lock screen. It was my whole family at captured at the perfect moment at my birthday party.

My six year old brother, Marcus, was climbing onto the kitchen table to get more cake. I was talking and laughing with my friends, and I had the biggest smile on my face. My thirteen year old sister, Aliah was fighting with my smiling father to get to her stolen piece of cake, and the picture caught her mid laugh. The reflection of my mother in the dining room's sliding doors showed her smiling as she took the picture of us.

We were all so happy, or at least that was the way the picture looked at first glance.

If you turned up the brightness and zoomed in on the tree that was visible through the window, You could see a shadow that was back lit by the neighbor's porch lights.

The only part that you could really see was the dark red hoodie that the figure wore and the bag in his hands.

Almost everything seemed happy on the surface, but all you had to do was look a little closer to find the one flaw. And that one looked over flaw can change everything.

I turned my mother's phone off and looked at the time. It was 3:37 in the morning. I was officially 18.

Happy Birthday.

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