I tried to think, but panic and injury had robbed me of my ability to reason. It was all over. My life… everything I cared about… all of it was about to be gone.
But it might not have been all bad. I would finally be with my parents. I’d get to see them again.
My boys… they’d grow up without a mother. They would never even remember me. I would be like a ghost who had never existed in their minds. They probably wouldn’t even have pictures of me to look back on. My poor boys… would they be ok? Would Ted at least take care of his own children?
No. I didn’t believe he would.
And I wasn’t about to let him take them away from me.
I tried to move, but couldn’t. It was over. My mind had already resigned itself to the fact that death was unavoidable. It was imminent.
The pain. I suddenly felt searing pain on my skin. It was too much to take and my body almost involuntarily leapt upwards trying to get away from it. I tried to scream. I thought I was, but I could hear nothing except the crackling of the blaze. I saw nothing but a fiery hell on earth. And I could feel nothing but burning agony as my skin began to melt off my bones. And then the bones started to char beneath them.
And now I couldn’t breathe. Was the fire melting my insides too? It was only a matter of time. I was bouncing around as best I could, my body out of control, my mind trying to wish it all to be over, and the pain growing less somehow as my brain took me somewhere else where I could embrace peace.
I fell to the ground now. The fire continued to rage. My face was melting right off my skull and I no longer cared. The smoke invaded my lungs to the point that I was almost unconscious now. It would be all over soon.
“Come on baby girl! Don’t give in! You must escape!”
Mother? Mother… are you here?
I knew it was impossible. My sweet mother was gone. But… could it be…?
“You must fight! You can do it!”
I could hear my own mother’s voice in my head right then urging me to fight on. I was vaguely aware that she was not really there. She was gone. I was not hallucinating–at least I didn’t think so– but to this day I can still hear her voice as clearly in my head as if she were standing right beside me.
I had to move. I had to live.
She wanted me to move on. My boys needed me! My boys! I had to get to my boys…!
Covering up my mouth with my shirt to shield it from the smoke I made my way over to the other side of the room. There was a window there with no balcony. It was just a solid thirty foot drop to the ground. The fall might seriously injure me and it could kill me in my weakened state if I landed wrong. But it was better than burning to death and it was the only chance I had.
I picked up the nightstand that I’d hit my head on. It was heavier than I thought and at first I stumbled, almost dropping it. But I tried again, this time grunting and putting every single muscle I had control of into it.
I slammed the piece of furniture into the window and the glass shattered all around me. The tiny fragments of glass pelted my body much harder than I thought they would and I instantly felt myself being covered in tiny cuts, like being attacked by a swarm of bees all stinging me at once. I ignored the pain and looked out the busted window.
The sweetness of fresh air was more precious than any amount of money I’d ever laid my eyes on. I took several deep breaths and then without thinking–which would have given me time to talk myself out of it and let the fear take back control—I flung myself out the window.
The ground flew at me swiftly. I barely had time to react or think about how I was going to land before I was pelting off the hard dirt below.
The air was gone. I couldn’t breathe. A tight pain wrenched itself around my midsection and squeezed like a boa constrictor wrapping tighter and tighter around me. I’d landed on my side. My arm felt like it might have been broken, or possibly just dislocated.
The impact shook my head sadistically. My stomach lurched harder and I emptied the contents of it on the ground.
I lay there a few minutes waiting for my breath to return and trying not to vomit anymore. I was out of the fire. I was out of the smoke. I was going to be OK. But I was hurt. I was hurt badly. I needed help. Ted had taken my children and most likely left with them. My family’s house was burning to the ground behind me.