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Fire.

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“Another one dead, huh?”
“Yeah. He was so lucky. He stole some bread at the market and the king decided to hang him. It must be so nice, to escape life.”
“I hope it’s me that goes next, but I don’t know how I’ll die. The thought of being tortured scares me… I hope I get hanged and not cut or burned.”
The villagers whispered to each other, the gossip slowly getting around town. Of course, everyone had already seen it, right in the middle of town. The people chanted, “Kill him” or “Kill her” as they watched the next villager to escape the hands of life. The cruel hands of life. Those hands touched you, groped you, ripped away everything. Especially if you didn’t have a little status. The villagers were used as slaves for the king, they got his food, water, made his clothes and so on. It’s not like they liked it, it was more like they despised it, loathed it, every ounce of their body wanted to burn the king and his selfish personality. However there wasn’t much they could do about it. Some were brave enough to commit suicide, others didn’t want to die yet wanted to die at the same time. I guess it’s hard to tell your brain what you really want.
Life or death?
I ran through the busy market, it was crowded in the afternoon, and I searched for Isabelle, my best friend. She and I go way back to when we were just babies, our parents were friends so we were always hanging around each other. We did everything together; like… witnessing our first public death. It was shocking, especially for four year olds, however, we got used to them. Then later on, we also went to the public deaths to see who the lucky one was. We became monsters. We cheered like the adults, we smiled while watching someone die. The very fact that we do that, made me feel sick.
You see, I don’t plan on dying to the king. I’d rather kill myself before that happened. But, Isabelle, she seemed so free. Like she was a bird soaring through the sky and me? I was a caged bird. She had looks, talent and she was kind and gentle. She was the best of the best. She was able to do anything. Her family was rich; mine was digging around the streets just to last another day. To tell you the truth, when I said that our parents were friends, it was more like servant and master. My family served hers.
It made me feel sick.
When I finally found her by a bread store, she seemed to be in some sort of trouble. When I got to her, she spun around, smiled and then grabbed my wrist. She dragged me behind her as we ran into a small alley. She panted and then said, “Hi. I didn’t think you were going to get her this early.”
“Why did we just run away?” I asked her, and then I spotted something in her hand. She held a small leather pouch that made a small clinking noise every time she tossed it in the air. I stared at her, my jaw dropping to the ground. “You didn’t…” I said with a gasp.
“I did.” Isabelle said with a smile. She then opened the pouch and let a few gold coins spill into the palm of her hand.
I didn’t understand her; she was rich, so why steal money? I instantly felt angry, she was risking her life over something so stupid! She could have just asked her parents for money, they would have given her everything. I yelled at her, “What the hell are you doing?! Are you trying to kill yourself?! You know better than to steal! They’re going to kill you, that merchant saw your face! He’ll tell the king and the king is going to kill you, right in front of me!”
Isabelle continued to smile as if nothing I said affected her in any way. I calmed down and spat out one word, “Why?”
She looked down at her feet and then took my hand in hers, they were warm like the sunlight on your face in the morning. She whispered softly, “I won’t get caught.” Completely ignoring my question, she continued, “I won’t get caught. I promise you, I will live. So you have to continue to live too, okay?”
I nodded and then took her back home. I didn’t tell anyone about her little adventure through the market. It was our secret. And the king never did catch her.
It was almost as if she had done it before. She was so sure she wouldn’t get caught. I felt sick.
What if she did get caught some time?
Life continued like always, I never saw her steal again. We watched other people die. We overheard people talking about wanting to die but being too afraid to. I told Isabelle about how lucky she was because she was so rich. Isabelle listened to me and always said, “I guess you’re right. But being rich bothers me sometimes. I want to help others, but my parents are always saying, ‘You can’t go off spending money like that. Sometimes you can’t help people.’ It’s not fair. I want to help those who need money, if I could give others money, people wouldn’t have to steal food and then get hanged or burned.”
Her kind heart almost made me want to sit in a corner and cry.
In the winter, everyone crowded around the public death that was going on. The king had decided to burn the victim so that the villagers won’t be as cold. I pushed through the crowd to get a better look, while I ran through I heard the villagers talk, “This time it’s a girl. I think she’s 14 years old.”
“Ah yes, I also heard she’s of noble blood.”
“So stupid. I wonder why she threw her life away.”
My pace got slower and I stopped in front of the red flames that engulfed her.
“She stole a few thousand gold coins, but nobody knows where they are. Should we go look for it?”
“Wasn’t her name Isabelle of the Darcy manor?”
Her skin was covered in small beads of crimson blood which quickly blended into the fire. Her beautiful brown hair burned away. Her green eyes glistened in the heat and you were just able to see the tears stream down her face. She screamed in pain, letting out a shrill sound that made some turn away in pity or sympathy. I fell to my knees, snow sinking into my thin pants. I screamed with her, my heart felt like it was squished in someone’s hands. I couldn’t breathe. It was too much pain to bear.
I felt sick.
When the fire died down and her body was nothing but bone and ash, I got up and walked back to Isabelle’s house. I continued to serve her family by cleaning the rooms. A week after her death, I decided I was ready to clean Isabelle’s room without running out and crying. I carefully moved her belongings as I swept and dusted the shelves. I remembered the all the memories of us sitting in her room and talking about what we would do the next day. I laughed a bit, thinking about how stupid our conversations were and sometimes we would just stare at each other then burst out into laughter. I remembered how she told me about a wall that she was able to push open into another room that nobody knew about.
She had only told me about it.
I decided to open it, and inside, I saw her favourite 100 note music box. She had told me that it was one of the most expensive things she had gotten, just recently too. She giggled and said, “It plays our song. Our lullaby we made up as little kids. It took me a while to sing the song for the maker of the music box since he had to know what the song sounded like.”
I carefully wound up the music box and opened the lid, revealing about 500 gold coins. If I recall, she said the music box was worth a few thousand gold coins.
I listened to the lullaby and then saw a piece of paper underneath the coins, it read;
Dear Elizabeth,
I don’t know when you’ll find this. It could be years from now. But then again, you’ll probably be sent to clean my room and then remember. So maybe a few weeks after my death. Was I right? I hope I am, I gotta sound smart until the end. Haha, I’m sound like an idiot right now. I saved you 500 gold coins to get around so you won’t starve and freeze to death. Don’t be scared to use them, they’re yours. They always have been. I wanted to help people who needed me and now I am, so please accept it. You can sell the music box if you want, give it to Derek and he’ll give you a few thousand gold coins. I hope I’m able to help you and your family.
Love, Izzy.
P.S. We’ll always stay as Lizzy and Izzy. No matter what.
I silently thanked her and I cried at the sound of the music box. I would never sell it, especially since we named the lullaby, “Fire”.



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