She picked up her babe. The sounds of the world reducing to cinders blended. All Steaph heard in death and incineration was the laughter of gods. You’ll never even know your name. Suzie. It was my grandmother’s name, you know. I wonder if she can see us from death. She always knew I’d be my own downfall, yet aren’t we all?

      A deafening roar of fire broke her reverie. Pleading voices below were silent as flames ascended the building; they were at the door, now. Dancing tongues of embers licked up the doorframe, greedily scattering across the walls like millions of bright termites. So hot, she thought. Silly, of course it’s hot. But words don’t do it justice. 

          The wall and door was devoured within an advancing sheet of fire. She turned back from it, feeling sweat run down in rivulets and flesh beneath blister. Each ragged inhalation ripped Steaph's throat and lungs like barbed wire, hair began to fall out in tatters, some strands not even reaching the ground afore they vaporized. Steaph huddled over her child as if to shield the heat. The very air seemed to waver and boil as Suzie stopped crying.

      Moving restlessly within her mother’s grasp, slowly the lids of her eyes began to open. Emeralds flecked with blue of sky, they shone in the light of fire. Eyes fixed on flame, Suzie was mesmerized by her doom. Is that a hint of comprehension in those eyes? Does she yearn for release from this premature hell? Steaph clutched Suzie, turning towards the door to face their white-hot demise.

      Suzie began to giggle. It was the sweetest song of laughter Steaph had ever heard. An elegant high-pitched vocal symphony drowned out the mocking jests of forsaken gods. They had no power here. Steaph began to weep, thick tears streaming down her cheeks, pattering softly on Suzie’s bare forehead. She laughed as if the embers were fools, dancing along with the blue in her eyes. They played in tune to her melody, the body of fire swaying with her serenade. 

       My sweet, sweet Suzie. Your first song will be no eulogy. They cannot claim you. They will try and try again, but you will forever elude their merciless grasp. You will fly like none have flown; you are the last of your blood. You will laugh in the face of fire and spit in the face of false gods. I have named you wrong, my child.

The End

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