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The Fire (2)

by Liberty

It’s been a while since the fire. I stared out at the evergreen trees from my only window in my cabin. The leaves were fluttering down to the ground, and I thought back to the horrible day that I ran into the mansion and retrieved all the important things, including the keys to this cabin – which was were me and Brad would spend the holidays to relax.

Brad… I sniffled, gulping down the lump in my throat. He was coming back on the fastest possible flight that would come to London and his plane crashed. Not letting any tears slip, I snatched up my phone and dialed Mother’s phone number.

A few rings later, she picked up. “Hello, my love.”

“Hi Mother.”

“How’s my girl doing?” she asked sympathetically in her American accent.

“Terrible. But Mother? I have a question.” I muttered half-heartedly, glancing behind me at Julia who was on her belly, grinning toothlessly at the butterfly that had somehow ended up inside our cabin. I felt a pang in my heart.

“What is it, honey?” I could hear some rustling on the other end.

“Mother, will you take care of Julia?” I croaked.

“Wh–what?” she stammered, and I heard the rustling stop all of a sudden. “Why?”

Gulping down my sadness and grief, I explained, “I can’t do it anymore. Ever since the fire, Mother, I’ve lost everything. My home, Brad, my life…” sobbing, I continued. Mother stayed silent. “Julia needs a better bringing up. I can’t live with her in this cabin in the middle of the woods. Her father was a businessman, and I’m working at McDonald’s, for goodness’s sake! I want Jules to have a better life. I don’t want her to live like this. Please, Mother, please take her in.”

Julia was staring at me. Her green eyes looked darker. Heart banging, I forced a smile.

“Are you sure about this?” Mother asked. I nodded and choked out a yes.

My mum said she’d think about it. We did a bit of small talk and soon, I hung up. Tossing my phone on the chair across the cabin, I hugged my knees to my chest and rocked myself sideways and broke into tears. Julia, getting scared by the sudden noise, wailed.

“My baby…” I picked her up and bobbed up and down, soothing her, making her laugh. “I wish I could see you laughing like this the next time I see you, my love.” I tilted my head and kissed my daughter.

A week later…

“Mother!” I called out form the crowd of people at the airport, waiting for their own friends and relatives. “Over here!” I waved my arm, manically and she finally spotted me.

Shuffling towards me, my mother beamed up at me. “Annie!” she pulled me into a tight hug, Julia squished in between us. She was officially five months old. “How’s my daughter?”

“Okay.” I said, pulling away. “Let’s get to the cabin before anyone else bumps into us.”

“Sounds good!” Mother exclaimed, smiling, her green eyes twinkling. I don’t know how I didn’t get her eyes. And Brad did. And Julia did. Stuff like this is confusing.

Once we were out, I hopped into a bus with Mother and walked to the very back. The bus started moving as we settled into our seats. “I have to tell you something.” she said suddenly.

I looked at her, urging her to continue.

“I may have looked up everything about the fire.” she said, her face going pink. “I know you’d rather not know who did it, but that’s the stuff I do, love.”

“What?” I was genuinely curious.

“It was Brittney. Your friend Brittney.” Mother said.

I narrowed my eyes, “She would never. I was at her house the whole time.”

“Maryssa worked for her as a… you know… as a spy-ish type of person.” Mother said, fiddling with her hands. “Maryssa wasn’t seen at all at the scene, that’s what the police said. Chef was found burnt in his bed, and…” she trailed off, wincing at the thought of what else had happened.

“I know. Everything burnt down. The house was ashes, wasn’t it?” I mumbled. Mother nodded sadly beside me, squeezing my hand. I stifled a sob and buried my head in Mother’s shoulder, Julia playing with my hair, and laughing.

- - -

“Bye, Jules.” I whispered. “I’ll miss you more than ever. And one day, I promise I’ll come down to your side of the world and see you. I’ll be dead to you, but you’ll see me. I promise. And we’ll be together after that.”

Julia was giggling uncontrollably in her grandmother’s arms. Mother had booked a ticket and now, it was already time for them to leave. I will always remember this day. And I will see my angel again in the future. A lump formed in my throat, and I started crying. Julia, sensing the tension, quieted down. Her outstretched arm reached my nose and she pinched it. “My little scientist. Always playing with things you find interesting.” Smiling, I wiped my tears and looked up at Mother, who was looking down at me.

“You’re making a very tough decision, Anthea.” she pointed out for the fiftieth time.

“I want whatever is best for her.” I declared again.

Mother looked around, a dreary look in her eyes. “You’re sure about this?” she asked.

“Mother, you’ll make me take her back if you don’t go now! And you have to get to your gate, as well.” I forced a smile.

“Well, if you say so…” she said, looking straight into my eyes, searching for the truth. I broke contact before she could say anything. “Call me whenever you need anything. Stay safe. Don’t let anyone hurt you. Call the police if you see any sort of suspicious attempt of someone setting fire. Don’t forget Julia.”

I laughed at all the rules she had suddenly spat out all of a sudden. “And you have to promise to follow my angel’s schedule.”

“You got it, partner.” Mother said, grinning.

I helped her take her suitcase to the entrance of the gate and looked down at Julia whose whole fist had somehow ended up in her mouth.

“I love you.” Mother said solemnly, hugging me.

“Love you too,” I said into her shoulder. I pulled away and Mother was already walking towards the gate.

I whispered to myself, “See you in thirteen years.”

And I left.

Word count: 1080

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1394 Reviews

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Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:03 pm
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JabberHut wrote a review...


First the butterfly in the cabin, then the pinching of Anthea's nose and just. MY. HEART. Plus the reference to her interest in science?!??? I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE. I love it so much! Ahhh!

You also did such a good job bringing so much emotion into this. This was clearly such a difficult decision for Anthea, and she was so heartbroken at the idea of raising Julia in such poor conditions. I felt like she was being hasty with this decision and perhaps there should be reason for why Anthea shouldn't just go live with her mother too. In these kinds of situation, and with this amount of love in the family, there's no reason why her mother wouldn't offer her home for her daughter and grandchild. (I think the novel mentions that Anthea wants to work on her own, but it would be good to see that decision made here!)

There was a spot in this segment where I got confuuused...

“Sounds good!” Mother exclaimed, smiling, her green eyes twinkling. I don’t know how I didn’t get her eyes. And Brad did. And Julia did. Stuff like this is confusing.

Perhaps she doesn't know genetics/science? This is Anthea's mother, I think, so I don't know how Brad would get her eyes. Unless they're siblings/half-siblings. I don't remember that being the case, though. (My memory can be foggy, so I just spew thoughts that may or may not be worth your time.) So Imma just say that Anthea is bad at genetics! And Julia got her love of science from someone else!

It's so cool that Mother was watching the investigation of the crime as well. She never explained how she knew it was Maryssa/Brittney that did it. It simply sounded like speculation, but I would like to think the police found evidence of some sort that pointed to Maryssa/Brittney. And if not, how did Mother come to that conclusion from across the pond? We all know how clever and witty Mother is, so it totally makes sense that she could pick up on clues others wouldn't (especially if Anthea is too busy trying to move on). It would be fun to get into her head and see how she thought through that! (Also, the idea that Mother knew about Brittney before Unlucky 13 happens?? IT'S KIND OF GOOSEBUMPY, LET ME TELL YOU.)

I think it would also be really cool for this story if we got a hint of hatred or jealousy in Brittney's voice during Anthea's visit. I think that would really help enforce the idea that it could actually have been Brittney who did it. This story isn't as much a mystery as it is a story, so we don't have to hide the fact that it's Brittney, but we can be discreet/sneaky about it! So some tense comment during their conversation or something to show that it really is a love/HATE relationship will help, I think.

I kind already alluded to this, but I love how you tie Julia's traits into these characters. You have a good understanding of genetics and family, and I love that you really paid attention to that here. Particularly, her love of science that works hand-in-hand with that science competition in Unlucky 13. I'm just really happy that you paid attention to these little character details!!

What a bittersweet story! It was really nice getting a closer look at what happened with Julia's mother and how it affected her. It was clearly a tough time, and any woman who had to go through all that in a few months would be having a hard time. In fact, I'd like to see even MORE concern from Mother because Anthea could potentially be depressed without any support near her. And not just typical motherly concern, but worried that Anthea would be alone and is pushing everyone away from her. Poor Anthea.

This DEFINITELY helped defend Anthea's position and provided a lot of good understanding for where she came from. You did well with this, and I feel like it helped you map out the timeline better as well! Great job! :D

Keep writing!

Jabber, the One and Only!

Liberty says...

Thanks for the review! I see I'll be doing a lot of editing for this in the future

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Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:34 am
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WinnyWriter wrote a review...

I'm excited that your second part is out. Good work. You did well working the emotion into the story. Experiment with more creative words to make it even more colorful and expand your vocabulary. That is not to say that your word choice is dull and boring, though.

The story moves a little quickly. If you're aiming for a short story, that is more acceptable, but if you're aiming more in the direction of a novel, you could stand to work in some more detail and flesh out the story some more. However, it is not bad. There are a few things that go unexplained, though. For instance, you mentioned that "Chef was found burnt in his bed." I'm assuming that was a dog and was meant to be "Chief"? I don't recall you ever telling us who this was or even mentioning the name before this point.

A little technical pointer that I'd give is on punctuation. Whenever a quotation ends, followed by explanatory material, such as, "she said" or "I said," the quotation is technically supposed to be ended with a comma, not a period. If the quotation is a question, however, it is okay to use a question mark.

Okay, I think I'm done critiquing. :) It's a great story. I love how you've worked in the mystery around the possibility of the fire being intentional and the motives behind it. It's good that you're slowly unveiling these details to the reader. It also hints at how the narrator's mom is obviously some sort of investigator. It would be good if you specified her exact occupation sometime soon. Anyway, I'm enjoying the story. Keep up the good work! :)

Liberty says...

This is a short story, and this is the last part I'm afraid. xp And Chef is the chef. :P Thanks for the review!

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Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:34 am
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Stellarjay says...

Another great story for the series!

Liberty says...

Thanks! :)

I was never insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.
— Edgar Allan Poe