short story, story promptJenny feels like she is to blame for the fire that destroyed her house and killed her family. She is, after all, the only one who survived. What will she do now?


The accident wasn’t her fault. It couldn’t have been her fault. There was no way she could have caused it. It was simply impossible.

Then why did she feel like it was her fault?

Jenny leaned heavily on her crutches, scanning the burnt-out house. She was surprised that the shell was still standing. With the insides completely gutted by flames, she’d expected it to crumble.

A chilly wind gusted through the street, picking up ash from the site and tossing it into the road. She tugged her scarf tighter and pulled her beanie down over her ears.

“Do you need a hand?”

Jenny glanced around to find a woman standing nearby, about to cross the street. She seemed vaguely familiar and it only took a moment to recognise her as the lady who lived next door to the burnt house. Her mother had been friends with her. A lump rose in her throat and she couldn’t answer.

“Did you know the family who lived in that house?” the woman asked gently, coming to her side.

Averting her face, Jenny nodded.

The woman sighed. “So did I. Such a tragedy. The house went up in flames so quickly that none of them managed to get out. The whole family died.”

Except me. I survived. Jenny took a last look at the house before hobbling down the street. She would never return here. She’d wanted to say goodbye before leaving, but she couldn’t stay. There were too many bad memories, not to mention everyone thought she was dead and she didn’t particularly want that to change. Too many people here might recognise her.

At the bus stop, she sat on the bench, resting her injured leg. I should probably go to the hospital, she thought to herself. The calf of her leg had become incredibly swollen and painful but she was reluctant to go to a place that would ask for identification. It would be too easy for a hospital to identify her as one of the girls who supposedly died in the recent house fire. Especially as there was only the one hospital around here.

After I’m away from this town, I’ll go to a hospital, she promised herself as her leg throbbed.

She glanced down the empty road and shivered as the wind whipped into the bus shelter. Normally, the cold didn’t bother her. It never had in the past. For the past week, though, she’d felt the chill acutely. It was a strange feeling to wear so many layers of clothing when she’d never needed to. Her inner fire was gone.

All used up by burning down the house in a fit of anger, she thought bitterly. It still seemed impossible, but the cold, empty spot in her chest seemed to say otherwise.

“Want some help onto the bus?”

Startled, she realised the bus was pulling up and a boy about her age was standing by the curb, holding out a hand. She winced as she tried to stand and nodded to the boy. He held her crutches and steadied her as she stood. The moment her hand touched his, fire leapt to life inside her and she gasped. Sweat started popping out on her forehead. She had too many clothes on.

With the crutches under her arms, he released her. The roaring fire dimmed immediately, fading to the size of a smouldering ember. She couldn’t help smiling. It was so nice to feel that comforting heat again.

Once on the bus, she studied the boy who’d taken a seat towards the front. Who was he? Why did he kindle such heat in her? What were his powers?

What is it about him that makes me want to suddenly stay, despite everything?

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