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“Justin, please shoot me. I am dying of boredom.” I said as I waited for my date to get back from the punch bowl.
“Then why did you come?” my friend Justin asked in his nasal voice. He was just about three inches taller than me, which meant he was incredibly short considering I was hovering around 4’11, and he had been nicknamed “The Skeleton” in years past due to the fact he seem to be lacking anything other than skin covering his bones. The disco lights bounced across his thick, oversized glassed as he awaited my reply.
“Because Chance asked me and I didn’t want to be mean. And he said ‘Just give me a Chance’ which is the cheesiest pickup line I have ever heard. What was I supposed to say?”
“No.”
“Ha. Chance is nice.” I said, weakly defending him as I saw him weaving his way back through the crowd with a full cup of punch in one hand and a half empty one in the other. Justin rolled his eyes.
“Whatever. I have to go to the bathroom.” He shot Chance one more disapproving look before turning on his heel and walking away.
“I don’t think your friend likes me.” Chance said as he handed me my punch.
“I don’t think my friend likes anyone.” I said dryly. That earned a laugh from Chance and a weird look from me.
“What?” I asked.
“Nothing….you’re just funny, Cole.” He said, looking down at me. “Have I told you yet that you look pretty?”
No, but thank you. I stared at him, waiting for his reply, but I realized I hadn’t actually said anything out loud. However, he must have taken my silence as some sort of signal, because he had started slowly leaning in, closing his eyes and pursing his lips.
People look really ridiculous with their eyes closed and their lips pursed, I was thinking. I figured I should probably kiss him though, so I inhaled deeply…
…and let out a very disgusting cough. Something was burning in my throat and my eyes had started to water. Chance’s eyes popped open and he looked confused.
“What—?”
“Everybody out!” screamed the DJ, dropping his fake Jamaican accent in his hurry to exit the building, which seemed to be slowly filling with acrid smoke.
“Told you so.” I shoved my hand under his nose. Chance looked at me as though I may have needed to be medicated. “You own me 5 dollars, pal. I told you he wasn’t Jamaican.”
“Could that wait until after we leave the building? I don’t want to die!” Yes, he definitely thought I needed medication. Oh well. I shrugged and pulled my black heels off in order to follow the mass of students in full freak-out mode. There were about 450 kids packed into the high school gym in honor of Homecoming, and 2 hours into the dance, one of the dimmer lights of Brookings Harbor High School apparently decided it would be super cool to start a fire. I, carried along by the crowd of overly made up girls and guys, was herded to the emergency exit door, where I saw a cop man-handling a chubby 6 foot two wanna-be gangster with a smoking beanie and a pack of matches sticking out of his back pocket.
Chance and I stood outside in the biting cold air, me thinking of how dumb it was to start a fire at school and Chance probably wondering why I hadn’t kissed him. Ugh. I was freezing. I had only been out in this cold for about five minutes and already I was thinking about charging back into the school to the fire so I could warm up. Instead, I turned my gaze to the policeman and the alleged fire-starter.
“I swear it was an accident!” Fire-starter said unconvincingly. The cop pulled the paper matchbook out of the boys pocket and thrust it in the air dramatically.
“Marcus, you are under arrest!” he said as he displayed the matches incriminatingly. Chance looked at the cop reverently. I studied the boy’s face; I recognized him from somewhere. Math class?
“Where did you start the fire?” asked the cop, pulling out a small notebook.
“I think… I think by the bathrooms?” said the kid. Something jumped in my stomach. Bathrooms. Bathrooms. Think. Why are bathrooms important? Why are…oh God. Justin. I glanced around. Nowhere.
Well, I couldn’t let him burn to death or something. Better go get him.
I handed my shoes to Chance, who had been talking about how he wanted to be a cop.
“Why are you—? What the—! Cole, get back here! Are you insane!?” But I couldn’t hear him anymore as I sprinted toward the smoking building and through the few coughing stragglers on their way out exit door. The security guard tried to grab me as I passed but only succeeded in tearing the sleeve of my dress.
The hallway was filled with smoke so thick it was impossible to see more than five feet in front of my pounding bare feet. The heat was intense and the carpet around me seemed to be melting, but where I stepped felt cool and smooth. Obviously I was in shock. A flaming plastic barrier fell in front of me, and I was barely able to jump over it, my toes brushing through the flame. I quickly reflected that it may not have been such a good idea to do this, but dismissed the thought as I remembered that the guy who was helping me pass Biology was in danger. My breathing was heavy, though I could only have run a hundred meters or so. Must have been the lack of oxygen or something.
The bathroom doors appeared out of the smoke in front of me, the blue paint melting off in oozing streams. I burst into the one on my right hand before remembering that that was the girls, not the guys, but the wall between the two had already mostly disintegrated. I gave Marcus some props; this was sure a heck of a fire he managed to build.
“Justin!” I croaked as I hurdled the remaining wall. “Justin, the building’s on fire!” He probably hadn’t noticed. I saw something reflecting light in the corner of the bathroom. Justin’s glasses. Attached to Justin’s glasses was, of course, Justin, as far away from the heat as he could get. He was curled up in a ball and probably passed out, but I didn’t care as I knelt down, arranging his body on my back in semi- piggy back ride form. Lift with your knees, girl. You got this—wow, he weighs more than I thought he did—I clamped his hands around my neck with one hand and hoisted his boney left leg with my other. He seemed to still be slightly awake because he moved his right leg so that it wasn’t hanging awkwardly to the side like it had been, instead hooking his feet weakly together in front of me. I took a few practice steps, then took off at a dead sprint (or as close as I could manage with a bag of bones clinging to my back).
I shouldered the melting door open, but somehow didn’t burn the right half of my body to a crisp, which sounds weird but I honestly wasn’t thinking about that because at that moment the wall above the door completely gave in and tumbled down around me. Burning pieces of debris fell around me like rain and Justin, who seemed more awake than he was willing to admit, screamed, but somehow the only pieces that hit me were non-hot and un-blazing. Again, the carpeting was cool and hard under my feet instead of the scorching hot melt it seemed to be everywhere around me. I ran again through the gym, the varnished wood floor now laced with mini fires that seemed to be racing around the room in some freakish game of flame-tag. I ran right through a couple but didn’t feel a thing. Maybe it was like that game that fifth grade boys play at their birthday parties where they whisk their fingers through the candle flames as fast as they can and don’t get burned. Come to think of it, I actually remember Justin doing that at one of his birthday parties, but he was in, like, eighth grade.
“Cole, look out!” Justin screamed in my ear as a pillar from our Ancient Greece themed homecoming came crashing down, clothes lining me in the chest. My dress was in tatters, but the melting Styrofoam hadn’t burned me.
“Don’t yell so loud! You’re right next to my head!” I said to the boy on my back that, logically, I should have set down to let him run out of the burning building himself since he was obviously not passed out anymore. Logically, though, I probably shouldn’t have decided to rescue said boy in the first place. Logically I should have brought back-up flats to the dance. Logically I should just do my own biology homework instead of paying Justin to do it for me. Logic hadn’t gotten me too far in life, though the lack of its use probably wouldn’t end up getting me too far either.
I saw, finally, the exit doors with a squinty-eyed policeman peering in. Thank the Lord. I didn’t think I had drawn in breath since I yelled at Justin, and my head was swimming. My feet pounded the last few meters as the policeman, who hadn’t been expecting to see me come back, gaped in shock as I hurtled out the door and collapsed onto the cool, damp grass, Justin sliding off my back in a puddle of oxygen-deprived bones.



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Red546This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Oct. 31, 2013 at 12:04 pm
Well done! I love Col'e calm and borderline sarcastic attitude about the whole situation and the fact that she is completely honest and everyone thinks she's kidding.
 
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