Chapter Three of Fear's Firm GraspMature

Michaela took slow steps backwards, still facing his unmoving frame, as she shook with horror. Then, with a quick movement, she turned and sprinted away, huffing and puffing along as fast as she could.

At long last, she collapsed under a tree in the park a few blocks away from home. No, that wasn’t home. Home is where your parents are, where you get love, where you have bedtime stories told before being tucked in with hugs and kisses. That was definitely not home. Her breathing became rasped as she struggled to get it back, in through her nose, out through her mouth, as she wrapped her arms around her legs, rocking back and forth as slow tears trickled down her face. The salty wetness slid into the creases of her lips, the dull taste slipping onto her tongue. With the salty taste, a memory came into her head. She remembered French fries, the salt glistening off of the greasy potato…

“Mommy? How do they make that ugly thing into this?” eight-year-old Michaela asked, holding out a fry and staring at it in wide wonder.

Her mother laughed and plucked one off of the plate that sat before them. She dipped it into the ketchup and popped it in her mouth with a shrug. “Things aren’t always what they seem,” she said, a sad smile crossing her lips.

“Was daddy everything he seemed?” the little girl asked, nibbling on the end of her fry with a curious expression.

A tear dribbled down her mom’s cheek as she shook her head. “He was more than he seemed,” she uttered, wiping her eyes and picking up another fry.

It had been exactly a year since her father was killed in a fire, doing his job. He was a firefighter, and he was the one to always go back in if someone was missing. His best friend made it out safe because of him, but he was unfortunately unable to continue after the ceiling collapsed on his back, causing severe burns and a broken vertebrae. Everyone else made it out, and no one could hear his screams over the sound of crackling flames and burning ember.

On this day, the girls were out at his favourite restaurant in his memory, for the anniversary, and Michaela was still having difficulty grasping what had happened to daddy.
The 14-year-old woke up, laying against the tree and attempting to remember what had happened. When she did, a fresh batch of tears welled and spilled over as she tried to tell herself that it was going to be okay. She still didn’t have a plan, but she knew that she needed to form one as soon as she could. She sighed shakily and stood up, brushing dirt off of her rear end and began ascending the grassy hill, kicking dandelion fluff all over and kept her eyes fixed on the swing set at the top. When she reached it, she pressed her hand to the cool metal interlocking links and sat on the seat, and then began pushing herself into the air.

The cool wind whisked her brown locks as she soared through the night air, the stars lighting up the night sky. She wished she could go up and join them, dancing and twinkling until daylight, but alas, she could not. She was human, and all humans have to wait. Unsure anxiety flickered in her head, demanding answers to questions, but she just couldn’t answer. She was in a daze still, and all she wanted to think about was the night around her.

The End

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