The Hidden Message

March 6, 2017

     The 1100 degree amber petals were devouring everything it touched. These petals caused so much pain, yet the beauty of it was mesmerizing.

     As I crawled to get to safety all I could hear were the sirens. My eyes and lungs burned as if I've never breathed in air. My muscles ached, and my developing bruises throbbed. The heat was intensifying, as well as the heavy black smoke. “Hello? Anyone? I'm in the…” Multiple coughs made my throat burn and aching body shake. I took a wheezing breath in, and tried to call out for the second and last time. “Someone... Anyone... Help me... please.” My attempt to call out for help came out as a mere whisper from my scratchy throat. I was slowly suffocating and no one could hear me.

     Although it was extremely difficult to breathe, I brought my body lower to the ground, and kept crawling. At times like this, it’s hard to stay positive. But if I didn’t, I might stop trying. All I could think of was seven more feet. Seven more feet and you’ll be away from all of this.  Seven more feet and you can go home. Seven more feet and everything will be okay.

Seven, six, five, four, three, two… And as I reached one, everything went black. My eyes opened and I bolted up in bed. I was in my room back home; there wasn’t smoke and blazing heat. It had to have been a lucid dream. It all seemed so real. The overpowering heat, the black smoke, the burning sensation in my lungs. It has to be something more. It wouldn’t matter so much if I had only had the dream once, but i’ve had the same recurring dream for less than a week. You’re overthinking this, your brain is just trying to scare you.
     I looked at the clock and it read 6:30, the normal time I would get up for school. After I got up I made my way downstairs to find my mom waiting to drive me to school. “Are you ready for your field trip?”
     What was she talking about? Wait, was that what we were talking about in history on Tuesday? History is not my strong suit and it can be difficult to pay attention when i’m not remotely interested in what we are doing. Most of the time I tend to either doze off or daydream.

     I tried my best to act like I knew what she was talking about. “Oh, yeah, i’m definitely ready. It sounds like so much fun, I can’t wait.”I don’t think that was very convincing.

     My mom gave me a small smirk and asked “oh yeah? Where are you going?”

     I tucked my hair behind my ear and avoided eye contact.¨Um, I think we’re going to a museum.” Good job Ren, she DEFINITELY believes you.

     ¨It seems like you don’t remember huh? What did we learn?”

Ugh not this again. “To pay more attention in class?”

     She laughed at my questionable statement. She would ask my siblings and I what we learned whenever we did something wrong, or to just simply lighten the mood.

     “Well anyway, I love you and have fun at the Smithsonian.”

     “I love you too mom, I will.”

     I walked out the door to find the smell of spring flowers, warm rays upon my skin, and a yellow bus waiting to take me, along with some other kids to the Smithsonian.

     A tortuous hour later, we arrived and make our way into the building. The building is made of white marble with giant steps and columns that glisten. There are long flags hanging from the top of the building down to the top of the door that show some of the exhibits that are there. Plains, boats, the history of radios. They have a lot of variety.

     Our tour guide showed us their most prized artifacts, and we were almost halfway done,  but my interest was starting to slip when she showed us the model trains. I need to go somewhere else. Anywhere else. “Mr. Marcus can I please be excused to the bathroom?”

     “Can you wait until we get the timeline of phones Ms. Lidyll?”

I looked at him with a pleading look on my face giving him a silent response.

     “Yes, just hurry back, we will be having lunch in the cafeteria shortly.”

     “Thank you,” I responded as I was walking away. I am so glad I got out of that while I could. I didn’t need to use the bathroom, but that is where I planned on going.

     As I headed in the direction we came from I noticed that there was lady smoking inside, right next to a sign that read “ABSOLUTELY NO SMOKING 20 FEET WITHIN PREMISES.” Can people really be that selfless? A worker noticed and started walking over to talk to her with steam coming out of his nose and ears. I couldn’t tell what he saying but he forcefully pointed at the sign, and from the looks of it he asked her if she went to kindergarden to learn how to read.

     I tried to act casual and focused my gaze on a plaque that was labeled “Women’s restroom” and hid in a stall farthest away from the door. Most of the time the far stall isn’t used so I would most likely be left alone. We weren’t supposed to bring our phones in with us but I snuck it in to listen to my music. Twenty One Pilots, Three Days Grace, Regina Spektor. Music surrounded my life. I was in concert band as well as marching band and I also sang in choir. I listened to music whenever I needed to take my mind off something and it took me into another world where nothing could go wrong.

     I escaped into this world and tried to analyze my strange dream from last night. How could something like that feel so real? I could feel the smoke traveling down my air passage, into my throat, making it more and more difficult to breathe. What if the dream is a sign? Or a visi-

     Oh no. No, no no no no no.  There was an all too familiar smell in the air. This can’t be happening.
I looked around cautiously trying to see if the origin of the fire was near. I didn’t feel much heat so I’m guessing it was outside the door. Using my right hand, I reached for the door handle and realized that was a mistake as soon as my hand touched the burning metal.

    I gasped out in pain holding my wrist in an effort to make it magically stop hurting. I’m trapped.

With my back pressed against the wall, I slid down but lost traction causing me to slide down faster than anticipated. I stopped falling once I reached the cold unforgiving floor. “Why can’t I stop getting hurt?” My buttocks ached and I could feel a pulsing sensation which was followed by stinging in my burned palm. I should probably run it under some cold water.

     I stood up and walked to the sink. This is going to hurt but it make it hurt less later. I turned on the cold water and hesitantly placed my hand under the faucet. Pain shot through my arm and as a reflex it shot back. I let out an exasperated sigh and took a step back. Instead of worrying about my injured hand I decided to find a way to get out of the bathroom before it burned to the ground.

     There were no windows but there was one vent located above the second stall. It was small but I might be able to squeeze through it. It was my only way out. There was at least a one and a half foot gap between the top of the stall and the ceiling so I would definately have to climb. With both feet on the seat of the toilet I climbed onto the tank to gain more height. I reached my arm up and I was a couple inches from reaching the ceiling. Stretching up as far as my body would allow, I placed my fingers on the nearest edge of the vent.
     I wouldn’t call it luck, or even fate, but there weren’t any screws holding the vent. It was one that lifted up almost like a manhole cover from underground.

     I pushed on the middle of the vent with my uninjured hand, and succeeded at moving it a third of the way open.  Right before it reached the halfway point, my legs started wobbling as I lost balance. I quickly placed my feet flat on the tank avoiding another injury. Taking a deep breath, I stood on the tips of toes once again and moved the vent the rest of the way.

     If I can barely reach the vent from the back if the toilet, how am I going to pull myself up? There was no time to logically think in this time of need. The refreshing cool air was disappearing with every blink, and so was my common sense.

     I took a leap of faith from the porcelain tank. My increased adrenaline caused my body to shake and the time to slow down.  I flew for what felt like an eternity but my hands grasped the opening of the vent. My upper body strength is not up to par but I managed to hoist myself up without any huge problems. To my advantage, the metal of the vent wasn’t nearly as hot as the doorknob. It was quite warm but, not warm enough to cause burns.

     There were only two ways I could go, forward or backward. If I moved forward I might get closer to the main exit, but that is most likely where the origin of fire is. I can’t remember what is located on the other side but it seems safer than crawling above fire. Coming to this conclusion, I turned around in the tight space and crawled over the opening of the vent.

     As I made my way through the vent I got a sense of claustrophobia. Everything was dark and the walls of the tight space were closing in on me with every inch I managed to move. You have to push through this. There is no going back now. This is your only way out.

     Even though I was crawling away from the fire, the  vent was getting warmer, and warmer. I couldn’t turn back but going further wasn’t the best way to go either. Despite my growing fear, I kept going.

     The father I traveled through this horrid vent, the more the voices grew. I couldn’t make out what they were saying but I could definitely hear them. Maybe if I called out they would hear me. “Hello? Is there Someone here? Please help me!” Just as I pleaded for help, the voices stopped. I could hear footsteps growing louder until it was as if they were right below me. “I’m in the vent! Please, if you can hear me get me out.”
     The loud footsteps traveled in the direction I was originally headed, and I followed them. After a few minutes the footsteps started getting faster, as if they had an important destination. The vent was continuously getting warmer but I followed the one person whom I thought could save me.

     The distance I crawled is hard to measure but considering how long i’ve been in here, I would estimate a good thirty minutes. It felt longer than it sounds and I was moving very slowly. I’ve been following these footsteps for a great amount of time now, but it didn't feel like we were getting anywhere. As I was doubting these mysterious footsteps I saw a light not too far away. I must be near another opening in the vent. Before continuing, I took a deep breath in and pressed my hand harder against the metal. It was almost hot enough to burn me. Was I being led into the fire? It didn’t matter anymore, there was a way out. I crawled as fast as my body would allow in this cramped space. The vent got hotter with every foot, and I was sweating and running out of air. Smoke started to enter the vent. I was approximately seven feet away but my achy body gave out.
     Almost of que, a husky voice encouraged me to keep going. “If you can hear me you need to keep going. I know it’s hot in there but this is your only way out. Don’t let the evil win.”

I needed to make myself believe I would be safe. Something familiar echoed in my head. Seven more feet. Seven more feet and you’ll be away from all of this.  Seven more feet and you can go home. Seven more feet and everything will be okay.

     As that phrase echoed through my head, I got  strange feeling of deja vu. There is no time worry about this right now, you need to give yourself a pep talk. If you don’t, you might not survive. You can’t lay here and figure this out right now. Renea Lidyll, you need to get up AND SURVIVE THIS!

     The smoke was getting darker and my limbs resisted as I dragged my body to the entrance. Seven feet, six feet, five, four, three, two, and once I finally reached one, the only thing blocking me from escape hit the floor with loud clang. 

    I peered out of the vent only to be met with immense heat blazing my face and body. I forced myself not to hide back into the vent and I looked out once more. There was a man with heavy duty firefighter equipment on standing on the other side of the fire and debris mocking us across the floor. “I’m going to get you out of here, but you’ve got to help me out here, okay? What’s your name?”

     Although I didn’t breathe in much smoke, my voice was still hoarse. “My name is Renae Lydll.”

     “Okay Renea, my name is Marcus and I’m going to save you. You are going to be alright.” These words of kindness on top of everything made my throat get tight and my eyes to water up.  I ran away to the bathroom to be alone but being alone and scared for so long really took its toll. Before I knew it I started balling uncontrollably. My vision grew blurry and the heat grew stronger. I needed to get control of myself. I closed my eyes and took a couple deep breaths.


     “Once you get yourself down, I can come and get you, but I can’t help you if you aren’t calm.”

     “I... I know. I’ll” I swung my legs over the vent and dropped the rest of the way. There was a small gap between me and the fire so I pressed my back as close to the wall as physically possible. Marcus stepped into the fire and tried to get through it as quickly as he could. He had to step over pieces of ceiling and artifacts that were completely destroyed. It was sad to think that most of the things in the museum could never be replaced. I should have stayed with my class… I was so focused on my worsening regret that it barely phased me when I was being lifted off the ground.

     My exhausted strained body gave out in the comforting arms of my savior. I rested my head on the scratchy fabric of his uniform. Before the overwhelming sensation of drowsiness took over, I managed to mumble out a thank you. Then at last, everything was tranquil and quiet.

     The short bliss of silence was abruptly ended as I heard a concerned familiar voice next to me. “Is she hurt?” “How long was she in there?” “Is anyone else trapped?” “Why aren’t you answering any of my questions?”

     “Mom? Is that you?”

     Her face brightened up and she talked at one hundred miles per minute. “Yes sweetie it’s me, everything will be okay, we will go home and watch movies, you can stay home from scho-”

     “Mom calm down. I promise I’m fine. I just have a burn on my hand.”

     “Okay honey. I love you and I’m glad you’re not hurt too badly. What happened?”

     I looked down in embarrassment. “Don’t get mad...but I went to “use” the bathroom and got stuck in there. The only way out was through a vent above a stall. I crawled through it until firefighter Marcus saved me. I also had that dream about a fire last night. Do you think it was a coincidence?”

     “I have no idea if it was a coincidence or not honey, are you listening to me?

     My thoughts seemed to take over my ears as well as my attention span. It couldn’t have been a coincidence. I’ve had that dream far too many times for it not to mean something. My dream was different predicted some of those events. Maybe it was a warning and I just wasn’t listenin-

     “Renea Lydll!? Can you hear me?” I glanced up at her to find an irritated look on her face and a waving hand attempting to get my attention. Once she regained my attention she continued talking. “Why were you so reckless? You know what? It doesn’t matter anymore, You’re safe now. What did we learn?”

     This question again? I understand there is tension but come on, really mom? I rolled my eyes but replied “Well, “they say if you dream a thing more than once, it’s sure to come true.””

     My mom slightly tilted her head in confusion. “Who is they?”

     I smiled back at my concerned mother. “Sleeping beauty.”

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