Exercise — “Afraid”

Photo by Cullan Smith on Unsplash

Susan Tribiani, 17, Retail, Relationship

‘Queen Miridam stamped her staff causing silence to seize the court. No one in the realm held the power — nor knew how to wield it — like the Queen. In all the years th…’ An incursion of tainted air pulled Susan from the pages of her thick book. She lowered it into her lap and glanced over her shoulder. The acrid smell grew stronger to her. It established itself as part of the house. As did a faint orange glow that flickered down the dim hall.

Susan tore herself from her bed. Her book sailed for a moment, finally loosing itself in the mess of upheaved sheets and cushions. Susan’s bare feet slapped against the wooden floor, matched by her thumping heart. For such a frigid night, the house was overtly too warm. A screeching alarm — too repetitive and too loud — bombarded Susan as she swung around the corner, lurching to a halt at the threshold of the kitchen. Hazy smoke crawled across the white ceiling bringing with it a burning smell of blackness. At the far wall, flanked by stacks of uncleaned cereal and treats, a radiant flame crackled loudly upon the stove. No doubt it feed of Susan’s dinner.

A second passed before Susan reigned in her jaw and clenched her fists. She darted toward the sink, knocking over a stack of biscuits as she reached for the tap. The fire began to colour Susan’s face; indeed her entire body felt seized by the fluctuating heat. Susan aimed the tap toward the growing inferno and released the valve. For a precious moment, glistening water arced across the room, capturing hints of the flickering orange glow, before it splashed into the chaos. The fire suddenly grew powerful and numerous legs and leapt across the oven top. Susan flung the tap into the sink. It battered and clanged insignificantly against the roaring beeps. The alarm continued to pulse rapidly. It called her to attention, called for her to act. Instead, Susan watched, eyes wide in the firelight, as flames clutched onto the nearby clutters of mess.

A tense cringe later, Susan slammed open the back door and bolted into the darkness beyond. Her feet felt the refreshing coolness of hard stone, though the sensation was purely physical. Her fingers trembled as they pulled out her phone and searched through contacts. The name ‘Mum’ couldn’t appear faster. As the phone range, a mere child compared to the blaring alarm, Susan could only stare as the orange force slowly swallowed the kitchen.

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