Embers

I am an ember. I am the last piece of burning wood that everyone leaves behind. I am the hot coal that, when forced into something unwanted, will set things alight. That's who I am. I am an ember.

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2. Rush

The sun's beams pour into my room through the curtains, shining on everything. I growl at the sun for waking me, roll over onto my stomach and yell angrily. He must be feeling top of the morning, up there, all his beauty shining down on everything in his wake. Bastard. I stretch my arms above my head, my face burying itself further into the soft pillow beneath it and it's pulling my top lip towards my nose, but stretching feels so good bloody good in the morning. The muscles in my back tending and relaxing, and my spine cracks fifty hundred times before all of the nice feelings are gone.

I gather my tired-self off my bed, get dressed and put a dressing gown over my chosen clothes for the day. I waddle to the stair case, slowly descending to the first story of my home. My mother sits in the lounge room, the smell of coffee and cigarettes wafting into my nose. I scrunch my face up and wander to the kitchen to make my breakfast and a warm drink. I take some bread and pop it into the toaster. Whilst it's cooking, I walk towards the pantry, taking my tin of milo out.

The trip to school takes a lot longer than usual this morning. It usually is busy Fridays, but never this bad. Never this. My mum pokes her head out of the window, looking ahead and pressing the car horn. I shrink down into my seat. She slides back in, still punching the wheel, and yelling at the person at the front to hurry up. Eventually, after continuous pressing of the horn, the driver walks down to our car, yelling. He kicks our front wheel and punches the bonnet, as I jump in my seat, watching him. I watch my mother as she gets out of the car, yelling at the man. She starts waving her hands and arms around at him, arguing. I can't hear it all, only small glimpses of what's happening. Whatever it is, I can see its not good at all. I lean forward, winding my window down, hoping I'm not being noticeable.

"You women are bloody useless!" He yells at my mother. My jaw goes tight, and I fight the urge to hop out and slap him up, or teach him some manners. "If women are the only useless ones, explain yourself, half-wit!" Came her reply, coated in an angry heat. I've never heard my mother speak like this. His face was red, and he raised his hand, swinging it towards my mother's face. I clench my eyes shut, but hear no sound of anyone being hit. When I open my eyes, I see my mother's eyes shut tight in a scared manner. My blood is boiling when I see her like that, when I see how scared she looks, and just when Im about to hop out of the car to give this man a new education, his wrist starts twisting, his bones cracking and grinding, and finally snapping. Loud, gross popping sounds coming from his wrist. He starts screaming, holding onto his morphing wrist with his uninjured hand, and when I squint my eyes, I can see small red ripples ruining down his hands, from the tips of his fingers to his elbow, as if he had been burnt and I hadn't fully healed yet. I watch with wide eyes, listening to him scream. But all I can think about is what he was going to do to my mother. I look away from his hand, to my mum. She's still squinting with her arms crossed across her face for protection. "What the hell?" He screams, turning and running to his car. I look around into the other cars. It's unbelievable that they haven't even noticed. How could they have not heard his screams? Or even looked across at him. Now that I look around, it's like they're robots. They're all looking straight ahead, doing nothing but pressing their horns. They have the most neutral looks on their faces, not even an angry or impatient glitter across their eyes. "Mum." I call. As soon as I do, everyone, in all of their cars, turn their heads towards me. "Mum!" I yell, turning and looking at her. She runs to my side of the car, pulling me from my seat harshly, except that I still have my seatbelt on. I press the button to eject it, but it doesn't go the first time. "Hurry up!" Mother yells. I press the button continuously until finally it lets go. I fall out of the car from my mum's strength. As I get up, she signals for me to follow her. We run towards the side of the highway, into the bush. I look behind me as I run, everyone staring bored lot at me. The city behind them drowning in smog. Simultaneously, everyone stands from their cars. I look forward again, relieved to be so close to the forest, to be close to hiding behind the trees and other flora. I look back again, and notice their legs are metalling with cords and sparks, like... Robots? I rush towards the forest, daring not to look back. Small led pieces whistle by, shredding through trees. I hear the man from before, screaming loudly for help. All the shooting stops, and nothing nut the sound of machines and the man is to be heard.

Two minutes into running, purely on adrenaline, I realise my mum isn't within my sight. "Mum?" My voice is like velcro, scratching in my throat. "Mum?" Louder, I say it. I hear nothing. "Mum!" I yell, my voice far higher than it had just been. I nearly cry, but I'm stopped by the sound of a branch crunching behind me, and it's then that I realise, the whirring sound of metal turning and bumping isn't out of ear shot, and I breathe heavily, turning around. The crunching gets closer as I turn. When I look straight ahead of me, my mother places her hands on my shoulder, and my chest relieves itself of tension. "Mum." I rest my head in the crook of her neck, nothing but the word "mum" leaving my lips. I feel her hug me, mutter my own name, and let me go. She takes a step back, her hands moving down to my wrists. "We need to leave, find somewhere safe." Her eyes don't leave mine, reassuring me with her gaze. I nod at her. "Let's go." She says, her calm facade turning determined. She heads onwards, without another word.

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