What Now

March 11, 2010
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Running, arms pumping, she propelled herself forward. Tears poured from her eyes as she tried to breathe in the smoke filled air. Quickly turning a corner she came face to face with a wall of fire that popped and snarled like a ferocious beast waiting to attack. Over the fires deafening roar she heard the faint shouts of her father yelling;

“Go, go get outside now!”
Suddenly, a sharp crack reverberated around her as the roof above her began collapsing, causing chunks of plaster to rain down upon her. With another resounding crash a huge support beam fell, catching her sharply in the back forcing her to the floor. She lay there a moment in shock. In that second a great gust of wind blew through the house picking up ash, and bits of embers which blew directly into her face. Letting out a scream she slapped at her face trying to extinguish the sharp stab of pain. Panicking she squirmed trying to free herself from under the beam as the wind slowly pushed the fire closer. Twisting her body slightly she reached her hand back, and felt the small gap that lay between the beam, and her back. With an idea she slowly began pulling herself from under the beam. As soon as her feet slid free she jumped up, and looked around herself as another hacking cough rolled through her body. Looking behind her she saw the tall mound of debris that blocked her way out, and realized the only option she had was to run straight through the flames. Bracing herself she lowered her head, and ran forward. She cried out as the flames licked at her legs. Suddenly the pain subsided as she ran into the cool open air. Smoke spilled from the open doorway, spiraling into the night sky as she staggered towards the road. Slowly looking up she watched as her home was taken over by fire. Through the tears that still fell from her eyes she saw a large figure running through the doorway towards her. As the figure came closer she looked up into the soot stained face of a firefighter who had his arms wrapped securely around the shaking form of the little brother. As the man brushed passed her, he sent her a pitying glance with his deep brown eyes. Her head whipped back towards the house as she faintly heard her mothers voice screaming her name before darkness pulled her under.
***

Tick…tock…tick…tock the clock chanted. Her dark red hair fell lightly into her eyes as she glanced up at the clock on the opposite wall before here eyes landed back on the math book that was perched on her lap. Suddenly a shriek of terror echoed off the bare walls around her causing the book to fall to the ground with a loud thump.

“Ellie?…..Ellie!”
A little voice called forcing her up from the warm place on the couch. Getting to her feet she hissed as they came into contact with the ice cold floor. Pulling her thin blue jacket tighter around her, and rubbing the sleep from her eyes she moved slowly across the room. As she passed by the small mirror that hung from the wall she glanced at herself in disgust. It had been three years since the fire that had destroyed her home and took the lives of her parents, but the dark red burns that she received that night still marked the left side of her face flowing seamlessly down past the collar of her shirt. Reaching out she grasped the mirror in her hands and turned it around to face the wall before she moved thorough the doorway into the next room. Standing just inside the doorframe she looked down at her little brother who was sitting straight up staring at her with his big brown eyes. As she gazed at him she was struck again by how much he, even at the tender age of nine, looked so much like their father. His nose was the same rounded shape perched symmetrically on his oval head, upon which sat a mop of bright orange hair that stuck up in all directions. Smiling slightly she made her way over to the mattress that lay on the floor and sat down pulling the little boy into her lap;

“What’s wrong bubba?”
She asked quietly wiping away a tear that had fallen from his eye. The boy stared up at her with a terrified gaze and whispered;

“Your not going to leave me are you? I had a dream where I woke up one morning, and you weren’t here. I kept looking and looking but you were gone.”

Looking into his eyes she had the overwhelming urge to scream, No! Never!, but that would’ve been a lie. She had thought about leaving before. On more than one occasion truthfully, but she never would’ve left him alone in the apartment she would’ve at least left him with Mrs. Richardson next door who watches him after school. Mrs. Richardson would look after him, and give him a good, safe place to call home. These thoughts of leaving didn’t last long, it only got bad when she came home to find another stack of bills lying on the doorstep, but as she sat there staring into his face she knew she could never give him up she had promised her parents she would look after them if anything happened to them. Never did she believe she would be nineteen, and raising her little brother but she was, so she was going to try and make the best of it. Looking into his eyes again she spoke firmly;

“No, Thomas. I would never EVER leave you. I promise.”
Once he was calm again and his eyes began to droop shut did she tuck him back underneath the covers. She kissed his forehead and whispered, “I love you.” before leaving the room. Sinking back down onto the couch she was struck again by how difficult it was to raise him on a waitresses minimum wage income. Altough she really didn’t have to worry about that job anymore, that day her boss fired her because the costumers were complaining about being bothered by how she looked, although they never said so to her face. Throwing her head back she looked around herself at the dilapidated place they called home. The yellowing wallpaper, the small table lamp that didn’t work have the time, and the bills and homework that littered the coffee table in front of her. Her eyes finally landed on a single sheet of white paper that read in big red letters:
EVICTION NOTICE. Gazing at the paper her eyes filled up with tears, and slowly started to fall as she put her head in her hands as she whispered quietly to herself, “what am I going to do?”





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