April 16, 2011
By Anonymous

The scorched earth burned through the soles of my keds. Heavy smoke smacked my face and bit my eyes. The last sparks of the fire that razed the city were dying. I shone my flashlight over the blackened ruins. Please, I thought, please somebody be alive. I bit the bottom of my lip and held back tears. I can’t let them think I’m weak, I just can’t. If I start crying then everything I’ve done will have been in vain. All the training, all the pain, all the heartbreak. They needed me to get rid of him. We had to bring him down before it was too late. But I think it’s too late now. Everyone I have ever loved is gone; a final slap in the face. It was his way of showing he will always be powerful. Late at night, everyone safe in their beds, and he comes and sets fire to the city.
The manors that graced the horizon are gone, and trees litter the hillside like toothpicks. Stars should have lit up the sky, but only the brightest shine through the veil of smoke. The strings of my faded cutoffs are softly slapping at my legs. I walk into the ruins of my old house. I pull the flowers from my pack and lay them on the smoldering pile. Carefully, I guide the dull yellow light across ground, and catch a glint of something under the pile. I make my way over and start pulling away debris. Finally I pull it free from its prison of wood. It’s a beautiful silver locket. My beautiful silver locket. I let it burn my hand, every little detail pressing painfully. I know they are waiting for me to come back, to keep moving on. But I don’t want to move on. So I sit on the side of the road, or at least what used to be a road. I let out a heavy cough as my lungs ache for clean air. Sparks fill the sky like fireflies, floating up, free in the air. And I am chained to earth. The last flame flickers before my eyes and fades into nothing.

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