Chapter 1

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Chapter One

"Allie, you know this paper isn't your best work!" Mr Michaels frowns down at me, holding my midterm in his hand, with a big A- plastered over the right-hand corner. The mark beside it makes it clear I am just scrapping that grade and one mark less and I'd be with a B.

I frown myself, chewing my lip as I find myself unable to drag my gaze away from the grade, realising this is the first mark I have got which isn't an A+ since I started college two and a half years ago.

"Now, is this really what you want to see?" He asks, disappointment lacing his voice. Shaking my head, I reach for the paper, seeing my hand is shaking as I grasp it so tightly the paper creases.

"Allie, make this a one time thing," he insists, waving me off. I lick my lips, unable to reply as I turn and make my way out of the grand office Mr Michaels occupies. Stepping into the hall, I lean against the wall, desperately flicking the pages to read his comments.

Reading through it once, I sigh as I make my way home, taking the time on the walk to my car reading it more carefully, seeing what he means. There are some obvious inaccuracies in this paper, which I hadn't picked up on on the three proofreads I did.

By the time I am parking my car, I am stressed enough without having to witness the scene in front of me. There, in front of the apartment building I live in with two of my best friends, is a fire truck and police car. My neighbours are standing on the street, most of them are students while others are older. They are all watching as the fire team rush into the building with the hose.

I frantically jump out of the car, rushing towards the crowd, seeing Emily and Frankie standing to the edge, huddled together, Emily trying to calm a crying Frankie.

"What's going on?" I ask when I reach them. When they see me they grab me into a three-way hug.

"There was a fire two floors up from us. The alarms went off and everyone had to vacate, yet the apartment it started in... there was no one home and they left the oven on and had spilt alcohol on the floor. The place went up so quickly the sprinklers couldn't put it out. It spread to the hall. We were told we might not get back in for a month or two as they need to check the structural stability or something." Emily says gently, pulling back and frowning up at the building.

"What about our stuff?" I demand, too wound up to keep calm.

"I don't know," Emily admits. I sigh, keeping one arm around Frankie as Emily does the same on the other side as we watch the scene unfold, taking an hour before the fire department emerges from the building again, all covered in soot.

They spend a further twenty minutes having a discussion with a man in a suit, who I am guessing is the man in charge, while the police listen in. They all nod and take notes, frowning up at the building.

I tense when I see the guy in a suit nod one last time before he grabs a megaphone and moves towards us.

"Right, ladies and gentlemen, I'm sorry to inform you, but no one can renter the building. The fire is out, however, the building will need to be checked once everything cools. We will know more in a week or two about a better time scale about when you can move back in, but for now, we are looking about a month before you can go back in. After the week, we will take a while to make sure it is safe for you." The man says, making me look at him in desperation.

He talks for another five minutes before the landlord arrives, an old gruff man who has a permanent frown on his face. The suited man breaks off to speak to him, both of them seeming o be arguing over something.

"What about our stuff?" A woman demands, who rightly has a right to worry as she is standing in a towel and has wet hair, clearly having been rushed out of the shower. Her question nearly causes a riot as everything starts agreeing, demanding to be allowed back in to grab one thing or another. I find myself joining this, remembering all my textbooks are in there, with most of my clothes and everything else of mine.

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