I stood once again in the burning home, my eyes scanning around the vintage styled living room that was now being consumed by flames. The heat was unbearable, even in the state I was in: a bystander watching the world around me crumble as dark grey smoke gathered around the room, making it harder and harder to see.
The sound of a child’s cries for their mom cut through my focus, hurting my heart. I could feel the agony, remorse and sheer fear from the one word that held more weight than anything in that moment. This child loved his mom with all his heart, yet based on the sound of the heartbroken voice, I worried that his mother might have been injured. Or even worse.
My legs moved on their own, step by step, walking through the blazing flames which burned hot, but did nothing to harm me. I could feel droplets of sweat roll down my cheeks and the increase in my breathing as I walked through the house and up the stairs as the fire raged around me.
I reached the top step, hearing the soft cries of the child, which urged me to move faster. He could have been hurt or trying to find a way out of this scorching hot place. It would only be a matter of time before the entire house collapsed, but I couldn't leave that poor child here to die.
I walked down the hall to the master bedroom, the cries and whimpers growing louder and more frequent, making my eyes sting with my increasing agony. I reached the room, the door was already open and burning to shreds. I turned my head, my eyes landing on a horrible sight.
There was the child, a little boy. His rosy cheeks were red and stained with tears and blood. He cried with his head held high, rocking back and forth as he held a woman in his little arms.
The woman was beautiful, yet the tragedy of what had happened to her left her beauty tarnished with blood all over, deep wounds, and a pool of crimson beneath her. Her once bright orange eyes were dull, the life within them gone, even though they remained open. Her lips, which I could imagine had once been pink were now purple with hints of blood on them.
The bruises on her arms and legs were horrendous. The deep cut to her throat and the large gash on her stomach were the culprits behind the immense amount of blood on the ground. Her long brown hair was a mess, some spots in her scalp missing large chunks of the brown strands.
I was rendered speechless, unsure how to comfort the boy. I knew right away from the familiar facial features that this boy was cradling his dead mother as the home that he must have grown up in was burning down around him. If I didn't help, he'd perish along with it.
I approached him, wishing I could do something, but a part of me told me I couldn't. This had already happened and all I could do was watch in horror and empathy for the little boy. He opened his tear-filled eyes to stare at me, their amber gaze almost matching the flames that surrounded him.
He held back his cries while his shoulders shook, those big eyes which pooled with tears locked onto me. I could see his pain, but I could also see the hint of love in them. Even though he was in the worst situation anyone could be, he still held love in his heart.
There was hope that he would heal, even though that hope seemed to be stolen from him at this very moment. I heard footsteps and I turned around to see Kendrick. Dad?
He met the little boy's gaze and sadness blossomed on his face as he slowly approached the boy. The child looked afraid, tightening his hold on his mom, as if she could protect him from this new stranger who was so familiar to me.
Kendrick smiled, blinking back his own tears as he crouched down, holding out his hand. The boy looked to be in shock, holding onto his mom and shivering in fear as he glanced at the proffered hand. Kendrick stood where he was, seemingly unconcerned that the house was already beginning to crack and wood was falling from the ceiling.
It was as if, in that moment, nothing mattered except him and the little boy with those gorgeous amber eyes. Kendrick didn't care if he died in the blaze, as long as the boy knew that he was a good man and could be trusted to save him. The boy lifted his right hand, staring at the blood cloaking his little palm. He returned his gaze to Kendrick, who didn't rush him, smiling encouragingly at the boy as he waited patiently.
Eventually, the boy put his hand in Kendrick’s. "Mommy. Can Mommy come?" he begged with a sob, tears rolling down his cheeks.
Kendrick looked at the woman’s body, looking deep in concentration before nodding slowly. "Mommy can come. I'll carry her, and you lead the way. Can you make sure the fire doesn't hurt us?" he asked.
The boy nodded quickly, looking more hopeful at the option now that his mother would go with them. I didn't know if he had registered that his mother was no longer alive, but Kendrick's willingness to carry the dead woman in his arms for the sake of the little boy's closure tore at my heart, prompting sobs to escape me as tears rolled down my cheeks.
The boy moved back, allowing Kendrick to pick up the woman's body. It didn't matter what was left behind at this point. Vital evidence that could have helped solve who had done this would be destroyed once the whole house burned to ash, which would happen before anyone came to help.
"I'll go first to make sure the hall is safe," Kendrick urged. The little boy nodded, watching Kendrick step into the hall while carrying the still form of his mother. I waited for the boy to move, but he stood there, taking a final look around the room, before his eyes landed on a dresser that surprisingly hadn't caught fire yet.
His little legs ran over to the white wooden piece of furniture. He opened the top drawer and pulled a little box out. He opened it up, revealing a small bracelet with a bright red jewel hanging from it.
The bracelet reminded me of a charm bracelet and the ruby red jewel had a mixture of orange and gold in it, looking even more similar to the flames. He ran to the doorway, passing by me, taking one last look around him.
"Mommy, I'll find him...and kill him," he declared. The last three words sent shivers through me and his eyes glowed with rage; one eye was a bright orange and the other a dark navy blue, reminding me of two different individuals in one body. He stepped away just in time. The ceiling collapsed in at the doorway where he had just been.
I remained where I was, watching the house continue to burn until it finally collapsed in on itself. I was left wondering one final thing as I was buried amongst the rubble, darkness enveloping me.
Did the boy ever get his revenge?