"FIRE! Call 911!"
I gawked in sheer horror, the smell of smoke and burning wood hit my nose as I stayed where I was. I wanted to move, to run forward into the home I'd grown up in my whole life. Try and save it from its burning demise, but I knew I wouldn't be able to. It would be a lost cause.
Right there, I wished that time would stop. That I'd have a moment to walk down the halls of my family home and enjoy the clean scent of freshly made laundry and listen to the constant meows of my cat.
I couldn't think any further, wondering if my cat was now in the blaze, trying desperately to get out but to no avail. The image flashed through my mind and only brought tears to my eyes.
I shouldn't have been crying, or that’s how I was raised to think anyway, but my heart felt heavy like I was carrying a weight within my chest.
Today had been a hell of a day as my family had revealed a dark secret to me. The same 24-hours in which my once amazing fiancé called off our engagement and dumped me for another woman.
I clenched the lamp in my hands, the only memory I had left of my grandmother. The woman who truly loved me wholeheartedly, not like the fake family I'd grown up in. A family I was foolish to believe and trust in.
My phone began to vibrate, and I held back a sob as I dug into my jean pocket to look at the screen.
"Work? Why the hell are they even calling at this time?"
I took a calming breath, my eyes still staring at the blaze and my ears picking up the sounds of a siren that were still so far away. My house filled with memories would be in shambles and ashes by the time they got here.
I slid my finger across the clear screen of my iPhone, placing the device to my right ear. "Hello?"
"Good evening, Destiny. How are things this evening?" My boss' voice made me frown while my thoughts spiralled through my mind, trying to figure out why he was calling me so late at night.
"Good evening, Sir. Not too well. If you can hear the sirens in the background, I'm currently dealing with a fire that's burning my home down. Can you call back when I've left the house? I'm in a sticky situation trying to get out from the top floor!"
Might as well lie about being stuck for the sake of shortening the phone call. It wasn't like we had any neighbors around us, so there was no way my boss would know I wasn't in the home.
I thought I'd get some sympathy, but instead, all I received was a sigh. "I'm terribly sorry to hear that, Destiny. I guess I'll have to be the bringer of more bad news while you figure out how to get out of your burning house."
"What?" I replied, not liking his deadpan tone. "What could possibly be worse than my house burning down as we speak with ME IN IT!?"
"Well, I called to let you know we're laying you off."
I was silent, my mind not registering the words he'd just declared. "Excuse me? Wha- WHY?! I didn't do anything. Everything was fine when I left work today!" I snapped.
"Well, my dear. Your contract was in place because of your fiancé. However, since he's informed me that you two have split, there's no need to have you with us."
"What?! But… but! HE called off the engagement! That's not my fault! I've been an amazing employee for years! I got employee of the month JUST LAST WEEK! How can you be firing me because my ex-fiancé decided to dump me for some rich chick who showed up from nowhere?!" I screamed.
My blood felt like it was boiling, and I knew it wasn't due to the intense heat of the blaze before me.
"I understand your frustration, Destiny, but this is just how things work around here. Your fiancé...or well, EX- fiancé is the one who put a good word in for you. Now that its non-existent, we have decided there is no need for you. We've deposited your last pay an hour ago and cleared your desk. His new fiancé will be taking your position as of tomorrow, so please don't come into work and cause a scene. I know your "family" is known for drama."
"Drama? Family! They're not my fucking family!" I screamed.
"Oh, I know my dear. I guess you're the last one to know about that? What a shame. Would have been nice to know you're adopted before everyone else. Anyway, that's all I had to say. Thank you for your contribution to our company and foundation. I hope things work out with the fire situation. Actually, it shouldn't matter since they're not your family. Ciao, Destiny."
The line went dead, and I bit my lip hard, tears rolling down my cheeks as I held back my sobs. I looked one last time at the home that I'd thought was where I belonged, the place where I was raised thinking I was loved and my parents and siblings were of the same blood.
All of that was a lie.
I turned around, forcing my legs to move forward. Step by step, I wished I could turn back time. Grandma… I guess you weren't my granny either?
My eyes drifted to the gold lamp in my hand, and I gritted my teeth, lifting it up to smash it against the pavement, but I found that I couldn't.
Even if my grandmother wasn't of blood, she'd loved me. She’d supported everything I did, comforted me when no one else cared, and this lamp meant everything to her.
A piece of her life that granted all her wishes and brought happiness to her. I can't… there's no way I can destroy this.
That would feel like I'd destroyed the last of her presence in this world. With my sad resolve, I lowered the lamp and tightened my grip around it.
I pulled off my backpack, opening it up to see what I had left. A few clothes, my wallet with cash, and one credit card I'd made sure to keep under my name. I dug through to find the package of documents that had my real last name, social insurance number, and true birth certificate.
I placed the lamp inside, rolled it up in one of my sweaters, and closed the bag, placing the bulky bag on my shoulders.
The sirens were closer now, and I glanced over my shoulder to see the flashing sirens and three large fire trucks approaching.
I need to go.
With haste I began to run away, and my mind started to put the pieces together. Was this all a setup? A trap to blame me for something I didn't do? How can my fiancé break up with me, my family bombard me with the reality I wasn't their child, and I wake up from my nap with the house in flames and barely escaped?
No… maybe they wanted me dead. Why else would they set the house on fire? If I survived, would they blame it on me; if I died, they would pretend to cry and make money from my death?
"This can't be real..." I whispered, tears rolling down my cheek as I ran faster.
My life went from perfect to hell, and as I ran down the street and into the woods, I realized that I was dead to everyone around me.
I wish for a new life.