Up in Smoke This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

April 7, 2008
More by this author
I hear screams. Terror and shock – bold, intense emotions throw themselves at me. It’s two in the morning, and we’re all running and fighting the smoke. Fighting for our lives.

The smoke is so thick that I can’t see more than three feet in front of me. The doors are blocked with wallpaper from hell. I’m sweating and crying, and if my lungs weren’t black and cloudy, I would be screaming. Flashes, lashes of light, laps of flames, and for a second I think I am dying.

We run back and forth, side to side looking for a way out with our stinging blind eyes. Things are blowing up in the next room. I can’t think about anything. I can’t worry about my brothers. My mother’s frantic screams can’t get to me. I’m completely focused on myself: my life, to get out, to survive, me, me, me. I can’t breathe.

Glass shatters, not from pressure or heat but from the fist of a brave man. This man grabs me first and shoves me out the broken window. My bare feet hit the ground and glass from the window slides into them. Air races into my lungs.


I’m sitting on a couch letting someone wash the black from my face. My family is crying. Why can’t I cry? Why can’t I hold them like they’re holding each other? I hear my mom say she thinks I’m still in shock. For the first time I make eye contact with her and try to squeeze out a tear. It doesn’t come.


I live in a house that has two fireplaces. I go to school, come home, go to my room, and by 5 p.m. I have cried myself to sleep. I have nightmares. I hate this new town; I hate this huge house. The only thing that keeps me alive is my sister and a Saosin CD that never stops playing. I eventually start sleeping with it on. My nightmares lessen. I don’t know if it’s the comfort of Anthony Green’s voice, or time, but sleep becomes easier.

I wonder if my sister hears me crying on the other side of the room. I wonder if she is as homesick as I am. I wonder if to her this brick house replaces our old green house. In my heart it doesn’t compare. I miss chasing her down Hopkins Street with bare feet. I miss the way sunlight leaked through the floor in the kitchen. I miss that ragged house.

I want my life back.


I’ve shared with you the gloomiest part of my life. A time that I remember like yesterday, but it was over a year ago. I am much better now. I am back in my town and my school. I can assure you, though, that I’m not perfectly healed. I am still homesick. I sleep with a nightlight and often an old Saosin CD. The fire changed me. It scarred me.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 13 comments. Post your own now!

Bookworm134 said...
Dec. 16, 2015 at 10:08 am
I was literally crying by the end of this.
shootingstar97 said...
May 28, 2012 at 8:45 pm
I know exactly what you are going through - I grew up in same city for the first eleven years before my parents moved my family to another country. It killed me inside, and I still - after three years - cry myself to sleep occasionaly. I know exactly what you're going through and just know... you're not alone.
yoitsme said...
Jul. 7, 2011 at 8:55 pm
I 've never been in a fire, but I've had to move often in my life. My parents are missionaries.... and that means that we move every few years... which may not seem like much... but I think living for a few years in one place and then moving again is the worst. 'Cause you get settled in, start having a life, and then Boom, you move again. So all that to say, I can totally relate... I used to cry myself to sleep most nights every time I moved. Good job writing it.
Keli S. said...
Dec. 17, 2010 at 3:40 pm

i dont know how but i feel like i can relate to this. i have lived in the same house my whole life and i havent experienced a fire. but i think its becuase i used music as therapy for my own problems. i just recently got out of a really bad relationship. my boyfriend was pretty abusive and it would've gotten worse if i stayed around longer. but now i just get so angry about what he did to me, even at the most random times that i just need to listen to my music. Particularly Winds of Plague. i... (more »)

Ninz59 said...
Nov. 25, 2010 at 11:26 pm

This moved me. I think i can relate because I dont live where in my hometown, even though theyre both my hometowns, but I feel more comf. back home.

Please check out my work

yhtht said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 9:34 am
i love the topic sentance it give good deatails.
CindyAguilar said...
Aug. 7, 2010 at 3:43 am
My whole life I've seen house fires. The first one I saw was when I was about 2 and a half. I remember waking up alone. I walked down stairs I found out I was home alone looked outside to see smoke. When ever there is a fire near by it reminds me of that scary day. My whole life I've seen 3 fires. I saw my dads old apartment burn down. It's scary to be so close to it.
Let_It_Be said...
Jul. 16, 2010 at 5:30 pm
wow. sometimes i think: if there is a fire, what would i save? but now i see that i probably would think about saving anything
alanacarlene said...
Jun. 2, 2010 at 12:49 pm
Whoa! This piece gave me  goose bumps! I still have goose bumps! That must have been terrifying being caught in the middle of those flames! This was really good keep writing! I hope as the day go on you get less and less home sick even though I can't imagine ever being healed from that experience.
SilverSnowflakes said...
Mar. 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm
wow. I have only experienced thinking my house was on fire when we got home from something and the house was full of smoke. turned out to be something my mom had left on the stove, and our house eventually smelled normal again, though it freaked the cats out. I can't imagine the house completely burning down...
Rose19 said...
Mar. 6, 2010 at 1:29 am
the description of the fire is very well written.. hope things get better :) keep writing !
Abigail_W said...
Jul. 7, 2009 at 9:52 pm
Whoa, this was great! Did it really happen? If so, I hope your brothers are okay, and may your scars lessen.
ashtong replied...
Feb. 16, 2010 at 9:21 pm
It did happen. Everyone is ok. :) Time has healed us.
Site Feedback