Wildfire | Teen Ink


April 12, 2020
By RachelES SILVER, Washington, District Of Columbia
RachelES SILVER, Washington, District Of Columbia
7 articles 0 photos 0 comments

You’re late. But the block is asleep and the mutts are snoring from their guard’s post at the door, and you know you can be as late as you please. Moon is a slice of swiss cheese, and even the strange, undiscovered extraterrestrial critters are burrowing into their craters to catch their zzz’s as moon completes the night shift. And it’s summer. It’s one of those summer nights where the breeze is just cool enough to slick away any unwanted sweat, and the only sound you can hear is the buzzing of dying street lights and the hum of power lines which zig zag from porch to porch, providing the electricity which, in this frozen moment of time, not a single soul needs. 

So you kick off your flip flops and cradle them between index finger and thumb, because the ground does not sizzle as it does in the afternoon; instead, it shoots waves of calming heat through your legs and beyond, settling in your core and radiating into one invisible hug. You’re wondering if the BFG will soon reach Warren Street, whispering his sweet dreams into children’s windows, and noticing that you are not where you are supposed to be. But that’s a children’s tale, and now, you’re out, out long past when you should have been home and you are no child. You are grown. Your doe-eyed self is so beyond vulnerable at this moment, but you are grown. And grown people can protect themselves.

You realize that you’ve always been vulnerable. You realize that in this life, in this world, you have always been prey: hunted and sought after by sinister predators. So really, at this moment, how vulnerable can you be? You’ve lived a life of fear and ever-drying tears, and now, you’re a grown up, you’re outside and it’s late, and you’re alone. This pool of fear that you have been wading through suddenly slips away, leaving a murky puddle at your feet. And you’re okay. You’re brave. This fear washes away so quickly and so underwhelmingly that you can hardly pinpoint this difference in your pattern of thought.

And you know now, you recognize this difference. Because of him. Because he is mere blocks away, and you don’t know if he’s asleep, behind you or around the corner, but you have no fear. You are fueled now by the unknown instead of the known, and you take off, feet pounding against asphalt, tracing the yellow lines separating right from left on the road. You’re sprinting towards who knows what, but you’re powerful. And you’re thinking: come at me. If you see him, you know. You know you will no longer freeze because the puddle that is now miles behind you is full of ice, and you, you are all fire. Fire that can fight, that can burn, that can kill. 

Then you stop. Runner’s high is twisting into sour, shuddery breaths. And what’s wrong? You’re bent over, hands on knees, panting, gasping for air. Something is telling you you don’t need to burn. You don’t need a wildfire on the offensive, you need one in your lungs, you need a voice. You misinterpreted, and now your power is changing, molding into something new, and you don’t want to wake your neighbors but you need to scream, a fiery hot, scalding scream, “Come at me!” You know now you will burn him, not with your fists, but with your voice. If he is around that corner you will yell, yell like you wished you had when he was in your room, yell like you’ve never yelled before, yell the yell that you’ve been holding it in for all these years. And he will hear you. He will have to, because you are loud, you have found your fire and your fire is your voice. It is the strongest, most powerful weapon you can wield and you possess it. You’re holding it inside, you’re protecting it and you’re ready. 

And in the distance, a puddle is sulking, and you turn, remembering how it felt to be underwater, how heavy and distant everything was. But it was safe. And you consider sprinting back to your puddle and soaking it all back up, but you shake your head, because you remember an important lesson every child learns: Fire and water cannot coexist. And now, you are filled to the brim with flame. 

The author's comments:

This piece is about me finding peace and taking back my power after being sexually assaulted when I was 13 years old.

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