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Smoke --- that is the first thing I smell before coming into consciousness. My eyes open slowly, reluctant. They begin to tear up immediately as if my body remembers something that my mind has forgotten. I sit up, feeling stiff. My eyes snap into focus and I find myself staring into the face of a fireman. I blink, watching as his mouth moves but there is no sound. Frowning, I look around. Everything looks as if it were moving in slow motion.
I shake my head but it seems too sluggish as if I’m in a dream. A tingling feeling starts in my toes then turns into an itch that slowly spreads to the rest of me. That’s when the pain starts and suddenly, every noise rushes in. The world feels as if it’s being pulled toward a central point that seems to be me. Just as abruptly, everything snaps into place, leaving my ears ringing and a burning pain that has now reached the base of my skull.
“Kid? Kid? You shouldn’t be sitting up. You gotta lie back down. We aren’t sure if you’ve broken anything.” The fireman says.
I shake my head again, sending waves of pain through my skull. “No. No. It’s all wrong. I have to get it back!” I shout.
“What? Get what back?” The fireman asks. “Hey, c’mon you gotta lie back down. I think you’ve got a concussion or something.” He says pointing to his head and mouthing his words carefully.
“No. I can’t. I need it.” I say but I’m not really talking to him. I find it hard to focus as a wave of panic and frustration washes over me.
“Need what?” The man asks and I give him a look that says, don’t you know?
“Hey, calm down kid. I---.” He begins but turns around as several people appear behind him. I can hear them exchange words but they don’t make sense. Staring at the yellow of his jacket, the itching from before begins but inside my head as if I’m trying to remember.
“We’ll take it from here. Thank you for looking after my daughter.” A woman says and her cold voice raises the hair on the back of my neck.
“What about her ne---.” The fireman begins as the woman waves her hand. The man nods as if she’d said something before standing and stiffly walking away, dazed.
I begin to shake my head and tell the fireman that this woman isn’t my mother. Couldn’t be my mother because mothers aren’t supposed to sound deadly… are they?
Dark eyes meet my amber ones as I look into a familiar face. “You,” Is all I can say because I don’t remember anything else, just that I somehow know this strange woman. Maybe she is my mother. Strong hands roughly lift me to my feet and whoever has picked me up, earns a piercing glare from the woman. She had smiled when I had said “you” but now she is frowning, studying me.
I study her in return, taking in her severe appearance. Her hair is surprisingly white even though she looks to be in her mid-thirties. She smirks and turns away as if she’s seen something funny. I scowl at her back and watch as she speaks with two policemen. They nod in understanding at something she says, glancing over at me every few seconds. Abruptly, the large man holding my arm pushes me forward. I walk towards the woman and a black car that has glided to a stop behind her. Twisting around, I take in the charred skeleton of a building; the only one on the block like that.
“Wait, how---?” I begin but the burly man shakes his head and shoves me into the car. I have to slide quickly to the other side so as not to be crushed by the woman’s lackey as he sits next to me.
“Comfortable?” The woman asks as she slides in the car on the other side of me.