There were colours that day. The world was filled to the brim and overflowing with colours.
Blue. Orange. Yellow. Brown. Green. Black. Every shade of red imaginable.
There was a fire. It ate away at our house with relentless fury.
And then there was me, watching it all through teary eyes and a scratchy blue blanket. They said I was in shock, and I guess that fit my description pretty well: my mind wanted to reject the scene in front of me, wanted to believe that this was all just a terrible nightmare. It hurt my head trying to understand this situation, it was better to just not think. Everything from my toes to my fingertips felt fuzzy, a pinprick feeling that hurt but also sort of assured me that at least I could still feel things.
The sky was burnt and golden; black holes had been ripped into the sky for clouds. Wood cracked and groaned— not in protest but in submission: it was a matter of moments before the house fell completely into a mountain of rubble and nothingness. It started leaning into the flames from one side, the roof collapsing in its entirety; the windows were long since gone and through the empty holes I could see fire so bright, it hurt to look at. Each level of the house crashed into the one before, as if someone were stepping on it from above.
Shadows hid the faces of the crowd; blackness watched me from all around.
There was a screeching of tires, the slam of a car door, and a "Persephone!" I jumped from the back of the ambulance like it was a cliff, with my feet locked I hit the ground and began walking slowly, stumbling past people as the blanket fell off. The pinpricking feeling started to disappear as I let my legs stretch across the asphalt. It felt good to move, to do something other than sit dumbly on the back of the ambulance. A heavy hand fell onto my shoulder and held me back— I didn't resist; I watched in helplessness as my mother was stopped by a police officer. "Mommy..." I muttered.
"Officer, my name is Elissa, this is my house. That's my house! Please, you have to let me through, this is my house..." she repeated over and over, pushing through. "Where's my daughter?"
"I'm sorry, Ms.—"
"No, my daughter is in there. You have to go get her. Let go of me. Let go, I have to find her." More hands pulled at my mom, all of them keeping her back: keeping her from me. Finally Mom's eyes landed on me: her brown eyes flooded with tears and relief. "Persephone! That's my daughter. Persephone, I'm here!" she called. Tears welled in my eyes as I watched my mom— usually a pillar of strength— fall in on herself. "Let me see my daughter, please..." she pleaded. They asked me if she was really my mother, and finally they ushered her to where I stood shaking. When they let her go, Mom walked shakily to me; my feet stumbled as I picked up feet, and I tripped into Mom, her arms turning into a vice.
They ushered us back to the ambulance, which flickered in the red and orange fire light. Her hand was wrapped tightly around mine, and even in the light it looked drawn of blood. A low jumble of sounds registered, though I couldn't tell what anyone was saying, my ears were ringing too loudly to hear anything and I was trying too hard to swallow the feeling of throwing up. In fact, I did, into our neighbor's yard.
I let the paramedic lift me onto the edge of the ambulance; my feet dangled from the edge, the pinprick feeling returning. Mom kissed me on the top of the head and didn't let go of my hand all the while they checked us over. My eyes turned to the flame-corrupted skeleton that had once been a house.
Someone lifted a stethoscope to my chest and I inhaled deeply, tasting the burning flavour of my childhood home. The crackling and groaning of the house continued, seemingly growing louder and louder as my attention focused on it. Mom grabbed my hand and held it tightly, rubbing her thumb over the back of my hand. "Everything will be okay," she mumbled, her eyes teary and staring straight ahead.
I let my head fall against her arm and closed my eyes to the dancing red flames, too exhausted to feel much of anything anymore. "Yup."