a vignette by Emma Cieslik, ’19

The smoky, dense air surrounds me and the stench of gasoline and burning leaves fills my nose. My leg stings, the open flesh rubbing against the rocky and prickly terrain. My childhood home sits visible in the distance, but with each crawl toward it, the barn seems to retreat from my failing limbs. The dried out grass sticks to my sweaty hands leaving small imprints from the blades on my palms. My head is filled with thoughts, though I can only focus my energy on the one that is screaming at me to run. Voices behind me screech for help as their lives become engulfed in flames. My heart drops to my stomach and my throat burns. The wilted flowers from my once blooming garden come into view and I almost collapse, smiling when I realize I am close to safety. The singing birds and colorful flowers from my childhood have disappeared, leaving me completely alone. Fabric tears and my peach dress rips open as I haul my broken body over the rocky path to my home. My leg is now completely uncovered and with each of my movements the dirt and debris stick to the wet oozing blood. My vision falters and for a moment I can only see black. One more crawl and I collapse, falling to the ground and feeling the warm breath of fire close in on me.