Clare's Fire

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Clare held her hands together, shivering in the cold. She knew that she shouldn’t be outside. It must have been below freezing. But she couldn’t be inside, not when she was like this.

“I just want to run away,” Clare whispered to herself. She has uttered the words too many times to count. This wasn’t the life she wanted.

Clare had bigger dreams than this excuse of a town. The only time that Clare felt right was when she was with Marc, her boyfriend. The only other time was when she wrote.

Clare wanted more; Marc, a piece of paper, and a pen were her only ways out.

Clare got up from the cement curb she was sitting on and went inside. She was promptly greeted by a voice, “Sl**.”

The words rang in her ears.

“When is dad coming home,” Clare asked her mother, Susan.

“He isn’t, Clare. He doesn’t love you. He hates you, he wishes you had never been born,” Susan said with a wicked laugh and another swig from her cheap tequila bottle.

Clare knew that her father, Brian, would be home in three hours when Susan would pass out.

Clare knew where he was. He was with his girlfriend, Peg. Clare knew who Peg was, she was the local newspaper editor. He would go to Peg’s house four nights a week to get away from her. Clare wanted to meet Peg, and often wondered why her father wouldn’t take her with him. Besides obvious reasons.

Clare wanted to meet Peg, more than anything.

Clare sighed and went into her room. The only solitary place in this house. Clare turned the deadbolt to make sure to keep her mother out.

The last incident before getting the lock was the last straw.

Clare meagered herself to her bed and took a deep breath. The sounds of pots and pans banging rang from the kitchen. Clare knew that she should be worried, but this was too much.

Clare wanted to see Marc, be with Marc. They had been together for almost two years now, and Clare was only seventeen. They were going to get married and have three kids someday.

Thinking about the future, Clare fell asleep. Only to wake up two hours to the smell of heavy smoke.

Fire. The house was on fire.

Clare hurried around the room, grabbing three of her writing notebooks and rushed out of her room.

“Mom,” Clare screamed, frantic. “Mom,” Clare kept repeating, moving through each room trying to find Susan. As Clare progressed through the house, the smoke got heavier and heavier, till she found her mother in the kitchen. Passed out.

Clare knew that she should’ve stopped her mother. “Mom,” Clare yelled again, trying to wake her mother up to no avail. She knew what she needed to do.

Clare dropped her writing notebooks, and picked her mother up. Clare hoisted her up into her arms and struggled to make it through the front door. Large crackling noises surrounded Clare as flames licked her heels. Susan made noises of stirring as Clare made it through the entryway, grabbing the only family photo ever taken of the family.

That night Clare watched everything she owned burn to the ground. All that was left was Clare, Susan, Brian, and the family photo.

Clare stroked Susan’s hair as the fire department and ambulance arrived. “I’m so sorry,” Susan croaked through drunken tears, as she clutched the family picture to her chest. “I love you,” Clare whispered in her ear, and that was all that needed to be said.





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