After Michael and I landed on the ground, a sharp pain jolted up through my leg. My back arched up in pure agony and I turned to my side, holding my stomach. I pressed my face to the cold grass beneath me and breathed, attempting to only focus on the sweet scent of the grass, and not the wretched scent of the smoke. I don't know how long I lied there, but it was long enough for the fire to completely devour the upstairs. Long enough for me to know that my parents were somewhere in the house. Long enough to feel the violent pang of realization in my heart. Long enough for me to hear the sirens approaching. But not long enough for me before I blacked out.
I got out of the hospital in January of 2008, with a cast on my leg and a few stitches in my lip. The fireman told me that they had found no bodies in the ruins of my house. Which means that my parents weren't in the house that night. Although, they did obtain a few items that were untouched by the fire. A few of them I owned, but the rest was my parents things. I was given those items when I got released from the hospital. They were almost hesitant to release me, but I got out successfully. I was only 12, I was small. Clueless. Innocent. Stupid. I burnt my house down, because I was playing with fire. And now my parents are gone.. just, poof. I have no home, no parents.
Michael and his mother were waiting for me when I got discharged from the hospital. Honestly, I couldn't have been anymore happier to see them. It made me forget about my mistakes for a few moments. Karen approached me and enveloped me into a huge hug.
"How are you feeling sweetie?" She says with her warming voice.
"I feel much better." I inhaled, smelling her wonderful perfume.
It smelled like my mother.. who never visited me in the hospital. Neither did my dad. I haven't seen my parents since the night of the fire.. They were going to bed, but were they really? The fireman told me that no bodies were found in the fire. I still can't comprehend it, the fact that they're just gone. They left with no warning, no letter, no message. Nothing. I feel alone, and cold.
I pull my arms inside my jacket and re-position my bag on my shoulders while Michael holds the door open for me, and I climb inside of their car. The smell of it is familiar, almost like a distant childhood memory, but I whisk it away. Michael sits beside me in the backseat and I smile weakly at him. Resting my head against the side of the door, the engine of the car starts and it lulls me to sleep.
One year, and no word from my parents. I've been living with Michael's family, my actual relatives don't want to "get involved." How selfish of them, but I find it very generous of the Clifford's that they took me into their home and accepted me as one of their own.
Anyways, around the beginning of the year I told Michael about my parents not being in the house the night of the fire. He was confused at first, but then he understood. Well, not exactly. I just feel like I can't tell anyone that my parents disappeared. He told me that we should tell his parents, so they could possibly find them. Michael's parents called, texted, looked around town, they even went out of town to find my parents. But they came back empty handed.
From that moment on, there was an emptiness in my heart that slowly devoured me. Part of me missed my mother's soft touch, and my father's wonderful laugh. But the other half angered me greatly, because they disappeared off the face of the earth, leaving their 14 year-old daughter behind.
I missed most of the 8th grade because of this emptiness. It felt wrong being dropped off by someone else's parents, and hearing them say "I love you!" It just felt wrong, un-needed. Almost stranger.
3 years since the night of the fire, and it's hard to let go. It still feels as if it was yesterday. The smell of the black smoke still lingers, and the pain from my broken leg is still there, I can feel it. I haven't looked at the items that were saved from the fire in 2 years, and I honestly don't want to. The sight of them make me feel sick, and I can still smell that tingy scent of smoke. Which is why I stash them in the back of my closest, in the Clifford's guest room. But the guest room is more like my room now. I've hung posters, but they are faded and roughing up at the corners. My blankets are muddled on my bed, and I've tidied up the clothes from the floor into my dirty hamper.
I straighten out my blouse and open the door, walking out into the hallway. Laughter came from the kitchen, and it made me smirk. It was Michael's parents, sharing a glass of wine, and reminiscing. It was sweet.
"Hi sweetie." She says when she sees me lurk from the hallway into the kitchen.
I smile and say "Hi Karen."
"Michael's out with his friends, and he'll be back soon."
"Oh, alright. I just came out here to get some food, anyways."
Karen goes back to talking with her husband and I grab some food out of the fridge, eating it slowly before I wander back into my room, only to shut the door and collapse on my bed once more.
Michael has been spending way more time with his friends. But I understand, because why would he want to hang out with me? I basically just sit in my room all day, doing nothing. I have been slowly letting go of the past, and the fire. But coping with my parent's disappearance, that's the hard part. I've gotten closer with the Clifford's, they're like family now. They are my only family, to me. My parents have been replaced, in a way.
Michael has started a band, which means that he has been barely home for the past month. So without Michael to hang out with, I've found other things to do. Including making my own friends. I've been going to school lately, and I'm almost finished with high school. I've gotten a few close friends, including Michael's band friends. But I think that Michael will always be my best friend, even if I am not his. He did save my life, after all, and he made it so I have a loving home.
Sitting on the couch, with the TV blaring, I found myself sprawled out on the couch home alone. His parents are out, and Michael is over at Ashton's house. I've had nothing to do today, and it's cold and rainy outside, so there's no hope on going for a walk.
I hear the door open and close and I turn my head slightly over to the left, where the entrance way is, and I see Michael and Ashton. I turn my head back and make a slight mumble in my throat, acknowledging that there are people in the house.
"Hi Addison" Michael says as he walks towards me, smiling.
I sit up but Michael proceeds to approach me, and he soon is sitting on top of me. Attempting to push him off, clearly not in the mood to engage in his "fun," I give up and slump down. I hear Ashton snicker beside me and I shoot him a look, but I start laughing instead.
"Okay, Michael. Get off. I'm tired and hungry and you know I will punch you." I threaten him, but Michael didn't budge. I begin to push him, but another weight holds me down. Ashton is sitting on top of Michael, and I am now pinned to the couch.
"Guys! Get off-" I start laughing again, but I'm struggling to emit laughter, considering that I'm being sat on by two teenaged boys.
I groan and Ashton says "How does it feel to be on the bottom, huh?"
Michael and Ashton both start laughing, probably about some inside joke, that I am clearly not aware of. I start laughing just so it seems as if I am apart of the joke, but I feel my gut twist and a sharp jolt of pain goes up through my torso. I twist around to my side and push the two boys off me. They both stop laughing and they look at me, gripping my sides. "Are you alright?" Michael asks, with wide eyes.
I smile and say "Yeah, I'm fine. I just got a cramp."
"Ew, periods." Ashton says as he sits beside me on the couch, and Michael sitting beside him.
Laughing at Ashton's incompetence, I say "Just because I have cramps, doesn't mean I'm on my period, smart guy." I pause and continue talking. "I hate talking about this, especially with boys. I'm getting some food."