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Flames of Joy
Flames engulf the house, debris crashes, and a timid voice cries out. Responding, is a deeper, more confident voice. The former voice is that of a little girl now sobbing in fear. So much so, that she begins to choke on her own rattled breathes. There isn’t much time; the smoke is killing her fast. The latter voice continues to call out for direction.
The girl sits cowering in the recess of her flame engulfed home. She has balled herself up into a fetal position with her eyes closed and is shaking, sobbing, waiting. She is waiting for her mother to snatch her out of this flaming incubus and embrace her. Excruciating sensations continue to pinprick all over her body. It feels so painful that one may just as well rip all of her skin off rather than make her endure the burning. The little girl can smell her flesh frying and feel her body violently shaking. She continues to keep her eyes shut in fear of the impending doom encircling her. The temperature is ever increasing. She finds herself no longer feeling the burning. In fact, she no longer feels much of anything. She does feel drowsy though. She’s starting to drift out into unconsciousness. Vaguely, she hears distant shouting, cries of desperation calling out. It sounds to her as though someone has lost something. She can’t fight much longer. Wait… she hears a voice shouting a name. It is shouting Katie. Katie? Why, that’s her name. She tries to shout out in response only to find herself caught in a deep hacking fit, eyes watering, body continuing to tremble. They’ll never hear her. She opens her eyes to see flames dancing excitedly around her. She screams in panic, and then goes into another coughing fit. The noxious smoke surrounds her, and her eyelids get heavy, body limp. Finally, her eyes shut.
Then, almost as suddenly, she awakens to find a rescuer. In front of her stands an enigmatic man. She feels joy and comfort smoother her upon seeing him. The little girl is perplexed. Only moments before she was burning alive. Now she stood before this mysterious man joyful and uninjured. The man bends down gracefully until at eyelevel with the precious child. She looks at the man in absolute awe. She feels sucked in by the depth of his sagacious eyes. They sparkle in the luminescence of the light and seem to contain all answers to the universe.
“Where am I?” she asks the man. The man simply smiles and looks lovingly into her eyes. His response, she doesn’t quite comprehend.
“Child, you are in a place far before your time.”
The girl blinks her large lustrous eyes, looks down at the ground, and returns her glance to the man. “Where is my mommy?” she asks apprehensively.
The man smiles once again, grasps the delicate hands of the child in his own and responds. “Don’t worry, you will see her shortly.” As soon as He utters those words the little girl feels all sense of doubt and uneasiness lift off of her like weights. She doesn’t probe for a more clear-cut answer. She simply nods her frail head and embraces the nice man.
Her eyes flash open! Sirens are wailing all around her. Panic surges through her body. Peoples’ faces are scattering about her. A stark, blinding light glares in her eyes. She hears a faint beeping noise and notices a machine with a line rising and falling steadily next to her. A nurse’s mouth is agape, staring down at her. The nurse cries out in a cracking voice to the driver, “she’s back!”
The little girl finally averts her glace from all of this to see her mother. Her mother looks about twenty years older. Her mother’s face is plastered with dread. The little girl feels an overpowering smile spread across her face. She could feel joy lingering within her and wanted to console her mother. This ambulance car was white and cold. It lacked feeling. Yet, it was as white and clean as the place she had just been. The little girl felt joy within her, but not around her. This place, this world, lacked joy.
She tried to speak to her mother, but found not a word escaped her mouth. Confusion and fear spread throughout her body like venom. Her mother was RIGHT next to her but she can’t speak to her! Tears started to run down her mother’s sorrowful face. Upon seeing this, all fear leaves the girl. The little girl sees so much agony within her mother’s eyes. Eyes that normally held the same luster as hers. Why was her mother so sad? She had survived; shouldn’t that make her mother happy? The little girl slowly outstretched her frail burnt arm, until her hand rested upon her mother’s face. And ever so gently she stroked her mother’s face. They locked eyes for several minutes. The little girl felt as though she was telling her mother everything was fine. The mother stared back in absolute shock. The mother had ceased crying and seemed to be calming down.
The little girl knows she can no longer speak, and doesn’t care. She can still talk, just not in the same way that her mother can. She can talk with God. He will always listen. Every ligament in her body aches, but at the same time, is filled with absolute joy. She feels that joy overtake and console her. Her heart now contains that very same joy. And that, she knows, is something she will never, ever lose.