f i f t e e n | Uh Oh

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f i f t e e n | Uh Oh

We were heading for food after the antique shop when we saw it.

There was a disturbance on the street across where the houses were neatly lined. A group of people stood there, a couple of them pointing up at something amidst the sounds of panic that reached me through the window I had opened.

I definitely did not have a good feeling about it.

I leaned forward in the backseat, trying to catch a clearer view through the window as the car moved by. "What's going on over there?"

"I'm not sure," answered Henry, taking a quick look through his window. "Let's see."

He turned the car at the end of the street and maneuvered it down the row of houses towards where the people were gathered. From there it didn't take long to see what was wrong. There was so much smoke coming from the house they were stood outside of, I was surprised we hadn't seen it from across the street.

There was a fire inside.

"I'll see if there's anything I can do," Henry said to me. "It's best if you would remain seated inside."

I nodded distractedly, hearing him exit the car as I still tried to gauge what was happening with the crowd. There were about seven people surrounding a hysterically crying woman. Straining, I could make out her words.

"I thought you got him out, I thought you had him when you pulled me away... My baby is in there, I need go get him. I need to get him. He's seven, he doesn't what to do," she choked out among the tears, still struggling against the few who held her steady, and hearing that my heart seized for a moment.

Her son was still inside?

"The ground floor is gone," the old man told her. "How will you get in, let alone get to the upper floor where he is?"

"I don't care," she screamed. "Cole is in there! My baby is in there, do you understand?"

"Beth, honey, we called the fire department," the woman next to her replied soothingly. "They said two minutes. Wait for them to get here and do their job. If you go in there, you'll get hurt. Who will take care of Cole then?"

The woman let out a cry of pain then as her legs gave out and the people surrounding her closed in to help her up. I pulled my eyes away from the sight, feeling her anguish score through me.

Her son.


I looked up to the house. The house, like the rest of them on the street, looked something of a small townhouse. Neat and totally structured in a way that seemed to connect one thing to another. The wall in front was short. Maybe it was because I used to climb a lot of trees as a kid, but even just sitting there with no purpose, I could chart out a possible route one could use to get up there. It was almost like a sequence folding out right in front of me: you could put your feet over the wall, climb up to slanted roof and grab the bars of the balcony to pull yourself up. It'd be better not to cut it directly to the windows from the roof, though. That'd be too hard to climb up to, not to mention the fact that the windows were shut. The balcony would be much better. A hoist up there and the sliding doors were in your access.

It'd be an easy climb.

Really easy. Anyone could make it.

Except... for every single person standing in front of the house, I realized slowly with a sinking feeling. Everyone—aside from the crying mother—was much, much too old to do it. None of them would be able to make that.

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