“Burning Memories” by Rina Rossi

The lingering redolence of ash was present even miles away from the Triangle Cottage. Lieutenant Simmons wrinkled her nose and quickly inhaled a few times before picking up her speaker to communicate with the dispatcher. It was a cold, rainy Sunday morning, at around 2:55 a.m., and the sky was a murky pudding.

“The fire is at the Triangle Cottage. The Triangle Cottage!” the dispatcher spoke.

“We got that. Copy that,” Lieutenant Simmons replied.

“This fire’s gonna burn that house to the ground,” Chief Lloyd said, sighing heavily, the deep creases in his forehead evident, even in his middle-aged soul.

Creak! The truck came to a complete halt and the crew spilled out of it like ants in a colony, yelling, motioning to others on how to tackle the mission. The cottage was a small one, one that could not house more than a family of three. Its aesthetic before the mysterious fire resembled that of one from a children’s fairy tale: perfect, the right color and with a perfectly lined garden in front.

illustration by Amelia Katz

But that perfect color was no longer there; the house was a deteriorating gravestone, and reflected the color of basalt. The garden was a mass of crispy, dying weeds. Chief Lloyd was right, the fire would burn the house down in a matter of minutes if the department did not get down to business.

“Simmons! There’s a person in there!” Chief Lloyd shrieked anxiously, breathing heavily.

Lieutenant Simmons sprinted into the cottage through the shattered window and sought the person, whose feet were stuck in a hole in the stairs leading to the basement. There was something awfully familiar about the basement, but there was no time to spare. If she had wasted more than just a few minutes, as Chief Lloyd said, the house would burn to the ground, with her and this poor struggling person in it.

Ahhhh! Ugh! Lieutenant Simmons murmured as she grappled with the individual who she finally got ahold of, and their face was nestled on the knees of her burning suit. She gasped, and saliva dripped off down her mouth. The individual’s face was the same as Simmon’s culprit in The Attack, the dreadful, blue incident that caused her so much emotional distress–one that nearly killed her willingness to continue with the hard struggle called Life. Her recovery from The Attack was the most beautiful thing that had occurred in her life. Now was not the point where she could return to her previous deadly mindset. The Person had the same shaggy brown hair and green eyes as her attacker. Those burning eyes were watering, and gazing up at her, the two in recognition of each other, both breathing heavily.

Sparks flew as the roof of the cottage began to fall off.

“Simmons? Are you in there?” an officer shouted.

Lieutenant Simmons gazed furiously at The Person’s eyes, whose head was still carefully nestled on her knees, and a series of thoughts ranging from pure hatred of This Person to the necessity to treat each individual raced through her mind. Boom! The roof finally began to cave in completely. The time to leave was now.

It was now or never.

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