Caught In The Ashes

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  • Published: 7 Jun 2013
  • Updated: 2 Jul 2013
  • Status: Complete
Desma Lee is dead. She died for being a witness to something so controversial that the authorities would kill for it to stay hidden. *For the Inspired By A Song competition based on the song Pompeii by Bastille*

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5. Chapter 4

After getting over the guilt of my first murder, I felt invincible.

In other words, I let my guard down even further. Our faces never showed up on the news and after a while Lucien and I could walk the streets of Paris fearlessly.

I guess that’s why I went to the party that day. After months of hiding, Lucien finally told me how he ever knew I’d be here in the first place.

“I met another runaway in Toronto; he told me that a bunch of you were flocking to Europe. I took my chances and figured I’d meet a decent ally in Paris,” he shrugged, putting on a Gucci jacket we picked up from a fancy restaurant.

My heels clicked on the marble floor. “Are those the guests that we’re seeing tonight? Other runaways?” It came out sarcastic but it wasn’t meant it to. I was actually excited to see my friends. I remember my heart sinking at the thought. The ones that were alive.

Lucien wrapped his arms around me and I caught a whiff of his cologne. As we hugged in the middle of my dorm, I realized something.

The cologne isn’t his.

These shoes aren’t mine.

Hardly anything is mine. My own fate isn’t even mine to control.

I realized right then and there that I had nothing.

*

I was lucky compared to other people involved in the mess I call my life. Take Ai-Lynn, Cal, and Sara for example. They lost far more important things, like their lives.

After we travelled those three miles to the police department we had our hearts set on breaking in. So we did. Leenin hacked into the security system like it was child’s play and we crept in silently.

Only to see two officers beat the crap out of twenty other teens.

They were up on the third floor, so it took us time to see them. But when we did, we knew we were walking into trouble. The officers were barking nonsense:

“You will die tonight. Your identities will be salvaged and used by the government. Everything you know about yourself is being given to others worthier of life. Do you understand this sacrifice?”

They called it a goddamn sacrifice. Something about it pissed me off so much that I grabbed a book from a desk near our hiding place and chucked it at them. It gave the people time to run, but it also gave the officers time to shoot.

Three shots. You already know who dies. The rest of us got marked with the scars around our wrists.

The rest is history.

*

The room stank of tobacco and sweat and I wrinkled my nose at it.

Lucien’s face broke into a huge smile as we walked around the low-lit room, much like a cabaret. Drinks were passed, money exchanged, laughs were all around.

And then I saw him. Leenin, my fellow survivor. Seeing him well, and alive, made the whole ordeal worth it. I excused myself from Lucien’s arm and walked toward him, my smile getting bigger and bigger with each step.

When I finally got there, he smiled, ruffled my hair like he used to and said three magic words:

“Let’s go outside.”

*

We caught up by the Seine. We talked about escaping, running, and, of course, our friends.

“It’s been so long but it doesn’t feel real yet,” Leenin said after a moment of silence. I agreed.

“I was going to go to college with Cal you know,” he continued, “I was going to have a life.”

“I’m sorry,” I said suddenly. “It’s my fault they died. If we stayed at prom, or didn’t even wake up in the morning, we would be home. We would be happy. Ai-Lynn, Sara, and Cal would have been alive.” Tears gushed out of my eyes and I didn’t care if he saw me cry. I was done holding in everything. I was done denying the truth.

It’s.  All. My. Fault.

He didn’t seem to hear me, just held me close and patted my hair as I sobbed on his shoulder.

“C’mon,” he said, “Let’s get you home.” While he let me lean on his shoulder, something kept thumping against my rib.

If I was on my guard, I would’ve noticed it was a lighter.

*

Everything goes fuzzy after that moment. Sort of like a clip show.

Click, first slide: Leenin laying me down on my bed.

Click: Him spilling his “drink”.

Click: His lighter makes an appearance.

Click: Fire

End of slides.

Leenin set me up. He joined the police and sabotaged everyone at the party. His anger and grief was more powerful than our friendship.

That hurt more than anything.

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