Since I’m just about to start my second year of university, I thought it would be relevant to share one of my creative writing assignments. It’s definitely unlike anything I’ve ever wrote, or will probably write again. Nevertheless, it got me the high grade I’d wanted and made me realise that where writing is concerned, I shouldn’t limit myself or my ideas.
The unspoken truth
We measure our lives in moments, memories, which good or bad define who we are, or the reason we are forever remembered. It was a cold November day when I became the person I am now, a remembered entity, “The girl who survived the fire”, and nothing more. How I wish I could live my life the way I used to, as I look back on my invisible existence with a fondness and appreciation which wasn’t present all those years ago. I realise now, being four years older and so-called wiser, that there is something rather comforting about strolling through life quite unnoticed. It is the stroll that I miss nearly most of all now, for my life is a constant fast paced walk, which protects me from the trapped feeling that had once caused so many sleepless nights, but tires me to no prevail.
At the time, my life felt like a game for everyone else but me. Chinese whispers was something I’d taken part in twice, but been the subject of in a multitude of cafeteria experiences. Hide and seek, which once enabled me to seek some well needed solitude as a child, became one of the many things I grew to hate. I was no longer a person, just a character they could manipulate and a puppet they could control. If only I’d realised how powerful I was. If only I’d realised the damage my silence would cause.
The charcoal infused, heavily deformed photos lay on the floor of the place I used to call home, transporting me back to the moment that my life changed forever. It was a Monday, a terrible one at that, the type of day that I would have longed to forget, if only I had been granted such a privilege. I was an acne covered, scrawny fourteen year old back then, who was taunted to no avail by the infamous school bullies, who enjoyed nothing more than making my life a living hell. Today was like no other in regards to the taunting, however, as if a little fire had ignited inside of me, I had chosen that day to finally defend myself. You may think it foolish of me to not seek advice from someone else before taking matters into my own hands, but I was fuelled with pure hatred, so pouring a single glass of water on the worst one of them all, seemed like a perfectly good idea at the time. I was provoked into behaving childishly of course, as the remnants of my dinner clung to my clothes, having been tipped over me, as if by accident, but in fact quite on purpose. I remember the way they had laughed in my face, then feigned guilt in front of the teachers and uttered a forced apology, before continuing on with their lives. I remember the horrible chanting and sudden exposure, which had caused my eyes to fill with tears. Luckily, even I knew better than to give them the satisfaction of making me cry. It was after the teachers had removed me from the cafeteria that I had felt a sudden sense of empowerment, something that I had never been fortunate enough to experience. There was nothing they could do to truly hurt me I thought. If only I knew how wrong I was.
The detention I received couldn’t compete with the elation I had experienced just a few minutes previous. Although, being driven home by my disappointed mother, smelling of spaghetti bolognese wasn’t exactly a highlight of my life either. My punishment at home was nothing more than to think about my actions, as she knew, better than anyone, that dwelling in my own self-pity, was much worse than anything else.
Four years have passed since my beloved childhood home, sanctuary, safe haven, or whatever you would like to call it, burnt down, and was left nothing but an abandoned wreck to the rest of the world, except me. I walk through the darkened corridor, inhaling the awful smell of the dissipated smoke, as the sole of my boots become covered in the ashy remnants, and once beloved possessions. Having mourned the loss of it all, and saved only small parts, I no longer felt the need to visit it, to witness the destruction that had ruined more than brick walls, or neatly carpeted stairs. In all honesty, it is the first time I’d been back in more than two years, but even I couldn’t ignore it anymore, as it was in fact my final visit. Having been informed just a week previous that it was going to get entirely demolished, I made the decision to go back and then never think of it again. Strangers would expect me to be saddened by such news, but anyone who truly knows me, will understand the relief that now engulfs me as the possibility of a fresh start is something I can finally deem possible.
I was the only one left in the house when the deliberately ignited fire changed my life. My parents had been to visit my Granddad in the hospital, who had been ill for quite some time, and showed no signs of getting better. I had been given the option to go with them, but the selfish part of me refused, as hospitals often made me feel nothing but uneasy. The night passed in a blur, as I fell asleep to the sound of fireworks lighting the night sky, exactly what was to be expected on bonfire night. I remember my eyelids becoming heavy and then as if only a few minutes later, waking to the sounds of screams outside and room a filled with smoke. I remember hearing the crackling of the fire outside my door and the notion that I would in fact die helpless and alone.
When I awoke in the hospital, surrounded by worried familiar faces, I no longer felt like the same girl who had fell asleep. People asked me what I thought had happened, what had possibly caused such a fire, but I could never answer them, for I didn’t know, nor did I want to speak about such an experience. It was only when the cause of the actual fire was discovered that my silence became a life choice, not just a temporary coping mechanism.
The fragments of an exploded firework were discovered not far from the letterbox which had allowed it inside. The police tried for weeks to find out who could have possibly been the culprit, but I had my own suspects, people whose names I would never dare, even years later, to utter aloud. So, after many weeks filled with nothing but disappointment, our house fire was deemed to be a silly childish prank gone horribly wrong.
A few weeks later, I found a note perched precariously in my locker door. It read ‘Hatred will always fuel the flames. Think before you act’. This anonymous threat took me by surprise, yet also highlighted my worst fear, that my bullies had probably started the fire. Of course I considered handing it in to the police, but with no other substantial evidence, I knew my actions would be in vain. So, instead I kept the note in my journal, hidden away, as an unspoken truth.
More time passed and I remained sceptical, yet hopeful, that they weren’t as evil as I’d thought. That was until I overheard them discussing their so-called “silly childish prank gone wrong”, and then everything made sense. It would seem that the blame game, which in this case could’ve had serious consequences, had caused them all to argue rather loudly, and exposed them to be the fire culprits. I probably could have approached them and demanded to know the truth, but what was the point when my mind had already confirmed it anyway? What was the point when defending myself only made things worse?
When the fire happened all those years ago, I was no longer the invisible teenager that had once been left unnoticed. Of course, I wasn’t exactly popular either, just a mystery that everyone wanted to figure out. So, when the seasons changed, and the years passed by, most people forgot about me once again. If only they’d forgot about me too. If only they hadn’t caused the fire at all.
I start to walk up the unstable stairs, which are of course blackened from the damage caused by the fire. When I reach my room, I crumple up the note and throw it to the ground. It will be demolished alongside the house, as all of the reminders of that horrific night; will finally be removed from my life.
My name is Louisa and I was in a fire. The fire was started by my bullies, but I survived. Tomorrow my life will start again.
I hope you enjoyed reading my prose and will continue to enjoy this feature on my blog. Constructive criticism and feedback is always welcome.
Until next time keep dreaming x