"Where are we going?" My little brother, Jared, asked for the third time. I closed my eyes. Memories burnt inside them like the flames had that day. "I don't know." If you close your eyes and think deeply enough you can replay a lost memory, like a movie in your mind. I replay the whole day starting with me running down the hill and into the meadow.
In my mind I can feel the wind whipping back my hair, I was free then. Those were the days when I raced into the house through the back door, dirty and sweaty after a day of free exploration. Those were the days when my mother would greet me, tell me to wash up for dinner and put on clean clothes. My father would laugh, "A young lass like you should learn to be sophisticated." And ruffle my messy hair.
Those days were over. Sweat clung to my body and I still wore the same clothes dirtied with ash. I breathed softly and pictured running down the hill again - into the meadow with wind whipping against my face. Smoke hung in clumps over the house I was running to. I panicked at that moment and raced fast.
My mother didn't greet me when I entered the door. I was greeted by the smell of smoke and heat of the flames. I chocked, gagged, coughed; anything that would clear the ash from my throat. My little brother stood wailing near the door. I grabbed him and shoved him outside. A wall of flames built up between us, blocking me from the fresh air that was outside.
Where were my mother and father? Another wall of flames built up in front of me. I caught a glimpse of my father in the lounge room. My mother was beside him clinging tightly to his shirt. My father held an empty bucket in one hand and my mother in the other. They stood inside a circle, a ring of fire licking at their ankles.
"Sarah!" My mother screamed, cried out to me. "Sarah!" I opened my mouth to call back but the smoke in my lunges stifled my cries. I couldn't take it any longer. I closed my eyes and imagined paradise. Strong arms came later to carry me away.
"Sarah, stop it. We're here." My brother clapped me on the shoulder. I opened my eyes to survey the scene. The place where we were at was small and old fashioned. It reminded me of Oliver Twist. I read those books and watched the movies when I was a child. Now I could relate to them.
We joined a line of children standing at the entrance. Most of them looked poor or sad with either their homes or parents taken away from them. A little boy played with a dirty toy airplane in front of us. He made noises of it whooshing through the air. I felt like punching him as if he needed punishment for what had happened to our parents. I felt my fingernails grind into my palms and my teeth clatter.
Most of the kids in the line were sitting on suitcases or on the dirty pavement. I sank onto my luggage and sighed. The energy in my heart had deflated like the air from a balloon. I felt empty like that air had been an important part of me before, and left me hopelessly alone. My little brother started to cry. "Sarah, when will our parents come and pick us up?"