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The Tragic End
“Mom! I’m home!” Shawn yelled as she walked through the front door. She dropped her backpack on the floor as her mom popped her head out from the kitchen.
“Hi honey! Did you get your big math test back?”
Shawn walked into the kitchen and sat down in one of the chairs. Her mom plops a bowl of spaghetti in front of her.
“Yea. I got a hundred and the five extra bonus points.”
Her Mom smiles and says,
“That’s wonderful honey! With your grades, you’ll get into a great college next year.”
Her parents were so happy that they had brought up such a smart girl. And they were excited that she would go to a good college, unlike them. Shawn sat there knowing perfectly well what her mom was thinking when she stared at her like that. So she began to eat her spaghetti so she didn’t have to look at her.
“Are you going to work?”
“Mom, I go to work everyday.” Shawn knew her mom didn’t like her working at a movie theatre. It wasn’t an ‘appropriate’ place for a smart person to work. But she needed the money and her friend Emily worked there too.
“Well, I have to go. I’m going to be late.”
Shawn grabbed her movie theatre bag and headed out the door. But not before she gave her mom a kiss. Her mom cherished all those little moments in her life.
But she didn’t know that, that kiss, would be the last.
Shawn loved Manhattan. She lived in a good neighborhood. There wasn’t that much violence and the races were split evenly. The school was just a short walk away and she had straight A’s. Which was pretty good for a junior, who takes all honors classes.
But there was one downside. Emily was her only friend. She and Emily were very different. They had first met when Shawn offered to tutor Emily. Then they became best friends. But they were the outsiders of the school. They were at the bottom of the popularity chart. But they didn’t care. They were their own group.
As Shawn walked down the four blocks it took to get to the movie theatre, she hummed along to a song stuck in her head. And as she crossed one street a wave of smoke enveloped her. She stepped back so she could breathe fresh air. When she looked back she saw a crowd standing across the street from a burning townhouse. She ran towards them, wondering what was happening.
She saw a mother screaming for her son. Shawn was shocked that not a single person offered a shoulder to cry on or even to try and help the boy. She ran over to the mother and said,
“Where is he?”
“He’s in the basement.” She sobbed. “Why?”
Shawn knew she was taking a risk but she said,
“I’ll get him back safe. What’s his name?”
The woman’s face was awed.
“Nicky. His name is Nicky.”
Shawn ran away into the house luckily the front door was already opened. Another wall of smoke hit her after another. The stinging in her eyes was so intense that she was crying buckets of water. But she kept on going. She found the door to the basement and busted it open. There was no fire down there.
“Thank God!” She murmured to herself.
Back outside, the woman was in complete awe that someone was going to risk their life for her son. Many people saw the girl go into the house but thought nothing of it. They never thought that they might go in and save them. They only thought of themselves. Is this what the world is coming to?
Shawn was out of the smoke. She carefully walked down the stairs. When she reached the bottom she was relieved the find that the basement had not been touched by the fire.
“Nicky?” She said. “Nicky, where are you?”
She heard a whimper in the corner. She looked and there was Nicky. He was black from the smoke and his little blond head had been turned brown. He had to be at least six. She got closer to him but he shrunk back.
“It’s ok. I’m here to save you.”
She put out her hand and he grabbed it. She then pulled him into a hug. He clung to her and wouldn’t let go.
She carried Nicky up the stairs and stopped by the door. She ran her hand over the door and flinched back. It was blazing hot. The fire was on the other side. She needed another way out. As she carried Nicky back downstairs he piped up,
“I know another way out.”
“Show me. And fast.”
He pointed to a door on the other side of the room. I didn’t know where it would lead but it had to be better than this. She put Nicky on the ground and told him to stay there.
She carefully walked across the room. But with one more step the roof caved in on her. She had seen it coming and had turned around quickly. But as it landed on the floor, it pinned her leg with it. She screamed. Nicky stood stone still until Shawn said,
“Nicky, can you help me up?”
Nicky slowly walked over and kept glancing at the ceiling. He pulled her arms and helped her get to the chair and desk in the corner. Her ankle was bleeding but she wasn’t in much pain. She noticed the window above them. It was small but small enough for Nicky to climb through and go for help.
“Nicky, can you lift that chair up on the desk?”
Before she had even finished her sentence the chair was up. Shawn stood up on the chair and opened the window. She pushed her head out and saw that it was an alleyway. She came back in and told Nicky,
“You climb through the window. I’ll be right behind you.”
He was up in a flash. When he was halfway out the window, the remains of the ceiling burst into flames. The room slowly became filled with smoke. Shawn started to cough when Nicky was outside. He stuck his hand through the window and yelled at her.
“Come on! Come on! You can do it!!!”
“I can’t do it, Nicky. Go and get help.”
Nicky was hesitant. He wasn’t sure if that was the best thing to do. But he saw her face and realized that he wasn’t strong enough to pull her through. So he ran.
He ran toward the firemen but his mom caught him before he could get there.
“NICKY!! OH, Nicky! I was so worried! I thought I lost you!”
But why didn’t she ask about Shawn?
“SHUT UP MOM!!” yelled Nicky.
His mom was horrified with him, but he didn’t care. He ran toward the fireman and tugged on his shirt. Nicky was blabbering on and on. No one could understand him. Except the rookie firefighter. He ran toward the back of the house. A couple men followed him. Nicky was in the back of the swarm. He saw everyone by the window. But he couldn’t see the girl who saved him.
Then the wind blew and a piece of paper floated by him. After chasing it for a minute, he caught it. It was a letter. It said on the front,
Nicky, give this to my parents. Thanks.
The fire buzzed around the boy as if they didn’t notice him. He barely noticed them. And then he turned his head toward the alleyway. The rookie fireman pulled out the girl. She was burned from head to toe. Her hair was mostly gone but Nicky could see that it was blonde like his. Her clothes were burned off in most places so they wrapped a blanket around her.
When the fireman came around the corner the crowd cheered. But he didn’t care. He placed the girl on the ground and checked for a heartbeat. Nothing. Then he checked fro her breath. None.
She was gone…
About two hours later, Joan Laurel opened the door of her house. She expected to see her daughter back from her shift. But there stood a police officer, a fire chief, a fireman, a woman, and a young boy.
“Hello, Mrs. Laurel. May we come in?”
She nodded her head, unable to speak.
They were lead into the living room. And they all sat down.
“Mrs. Laurel, we have some news for you and your husband.”
At that very moment, Mr. Laurel walks in and stands behind his wife. The fire chief sighs, not knowing where to begin.
“Today,” He started. “A great deed was preformed. A miracle you may say. One life is saved, but another lost in the process.”
He looked solemnly at the parents and said,
“Shawn is dead, Mr. and Mrs. Laurel.”
Both of their jaws dropped and tear sprung into their eyes as if on cue.
“She ran into a burning building to save this young boy,” Said the policeman. “I am very sorry for your loss.”
At that moment Emily walked in wearing her movie theatre uniform wondering where Shawn was.
“Shawn? Shawn, are you here?”
She looked into the living room to see the solemn faces of all the people. Mrs. Laurel shook her head back and forth.
“No, Emily. She isn’t here anymore.” Mr. Laurel said, hugging his wife.
She sat down where she was standing and put her head in her hands and cried. The policeman and fire chief escorted themselves out. Then the fireman blurted out,
“She was smiling.”
The small groups of mourners looked at him.
“She looked happy when I pulled her out. She looked happy and proud. Although she was burned up pretty bad, she seemed to be glowing. You two should be proud to have such a kind daughter.”
“Nicky wouldn’t have been here without her,” Brought up the woman. “Your daughter was very, very brave!”
Nicky stood up and pulled the letter out of his pocket. He handed it to Mrs. Laurel.
“I found this outside the window. It’s for you.”
Mrs. Laurel Slowly opened up the letter and saw Shawn’s beautiful cursive handwriting. She began to read it out loud,
“Dear Mom, Dad, Emily, Nicky, and anyone else who reads this letter,
I am pretty positive that I am going to die soon. It’s kind of obvious to me now. The basement is very hot and I can’t stop coughing from the smoke. The ceiling that fell on me is in flames and coming toward me. I just really want to tell you all that I love you guys so much. And I hope you miss me.
Nicky, although I barely knew you, you seem very sweet. And if you can’t tell you should cherish you life. I mean cats have nine lives but humans only have one. And I am very happy that I was able to save the one you have. So be careful! I want to see you grow up from heaven! And yes that is where I am hoping I will be in a couple minutes.
Emily, you are my best friend in the whole wide world. And don’t worry about you not making friends. There are so many people at our school. Join a club or find someone else to tutor you. You’ll find friends! And if you don’t even try I will come down there and scare you into doing it. Although, you know how terrible I am at scaring people. OW! Sorry, something burnt my toe.
Mom and Dad, you are my inspiration. And Mom I know that you wanted me to go to college because you and Dad never went. Well go now! Since I’m gone, that cuts out a lot of you expenses! And you both could afford to at least go to a community college. Please do it because that would mean the world to me. I love you guys so much! And please treat Nicky like you own son. Be his guardian and watch over him for me.
And I know you are all thinking, ‘Why the HELL did I go into the building?’ Well, I’ll tell you. Because I felt like it was my duty. I could hear Jesus Christ calling to me. Telling me to help this boy. And you know Jesus did say, “This is my command: Love each other as I have loved you. The greatest love a person can show is to die for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you. –John 15:12-14” And everyone is my friend! So why not do a good that will most likely get you into heaven?
Ow, the fire is enveloping my legs. Goodbye everyone. I love you all…
Shawn Marie Laurel <3”
The whole room was silent. During the letter Emily had laughed at some parts in her paragraph and cried at the very end. Mrs. Laurel had let everyone read their own section. Most of the tears were dried when the letter was done. They all sat around the living room thinking about what had happened.
Emily eventually went up to Shawn’s room and just sat there and watched. She observed everything that was in the room. Nicky and his mother went to what was left of their home and tried to pick out things that had been saved with the fireman. The Laurels sat in the living room for day eating and reading the letter over and over.
Then they all slept with Shawn in their dreams…
Port Pirie, ZZ