The white hospital lights, the sounds of a monitor softly beeping, an oxygen mask, a burning sensation flowing through every vein in my body...all over again. It was all so bloody familiar...like Deja vu. She sat beside me... my sister, again. The same room, the same hospital...the same fire. Again.
"Where’s Aiden?" I choked out. My sister lifted her head, her eyes swimming with tears.
"Oh Eric..." she cried.
The flames whipped against my skin, burning every inch of my body. The pain, the unbearable pain...it was nothing as compared to the very thought of losing Aiden. Not this time...not again!
Breaking through the rubble, breathless as the smoke clouded my lungs, only my will allowed me to press forward, when my body had failed me.
I broke open the flame eaten bedroom door, screaming for him. He stood near the window, a tall slim figure with a single pure white candle in his hand, its flame soft and small. He turned towards me, his eyes shined with a demonic glow from the red flames. He sneered at me. He no longer seemed like a little boy, whiny and immature...but like a demon, contorted and twisted by man.
"Come to crash the party, eh Eric?" His voice was thick with sarcasm. "You weren't invited." Low and pitiless, the strength in his voice made my body cold within the burning flames. "This is my end, a glorious end in flame and rubble, like the burning of an era!" He threw his hands in the air, "Look at it, Eric! Look at what your little monster has created!" He laughed as he twirled around the burning room. He stopped, stared into the flames for a few moments, and then turned to me, "I'm sorry, Eric. I thought you wouldn't be here. Leave. Please, for both our sakes." The honesty and authority in his voice was over whelming, but the pain and exhaustion in his eyes was almost surreal.
That is when I realized...how exhausting it must have been, to carry the burden of Joseph's death on his frail wings.
The fire soaked deeper into the walls.
The walls began to sink, the floor cracked.
The ceiling moaned as it fell apart.
He stood below the falling debris. He didn't move.
He looked towards the sky, and smiled mournfully.
My limbs reacted wildly, reaching for him, wanting to hold him, cradle him, and protect him from the flames.
I remember embracing his tightly and pinning him to the floor.
He asked..."Why?" as his tears wet my sleeve.
I answered, "It was never your burden to bear...silly boy."
Then the pain of a thousand bricks against my back...and the blackness...
Until I woke up...in the bright, white hospital room.
Where’s Aiden?" I repeated with more authority.
My sister looked away.