Five Stories High

Here is a short story I won a ‘Wollongong Short Story’ competition, 2016 and received publication in Tertangala Magazine 2016, June edition.

I hope you enjoy.


Five Stories High

Then the fire. Everything we had tried to rebuild was burning in our apartment. Who got me this eighteenth birthday present? It wasn’t what I wanted.

The scalding windows edge filled my feet with warmth on the cool winter’s night. My toes dangled five stories high. The small mustard-coloured men held the net below and waited for me to leap. A cool breeze floated over my uncovered shins; a faint smell of smoke lingered in the back of my throat. The flashing blue and red emergency sirens ran across my burning room, my back was hot but there was still time.

Would it have been better to be suffocated and scorched to death, than if I fell and the fire fighters misjudged my jump? Either way if I died on my birthday it was ironic, in a disturbing way.

There wasn’t much time. I must take the risk to leap, a slim chance to survive or accept my death. To be engulfed by Satan’s flames or saved by the contemporary angels.

I always wanted more but I feel I don’t need it anymore. I stared back at the orange and yellow dancing flames that burned through my schoolbooks, and the photo of dad – spreading onto my bed. I face outside. I don’t look back not regretting to grab anything.

Loud screams echoed from below, ‘Jump Ben, quick!’ Mum yelled. She had been outside of the apartment when the fire started. Behind me, Mother Nature’s flame of death ready to engulf me and below my Mother’s unconditional love with open arms.

With each breath the smoke tasted more like my melting bed sheets – I had to leap. I closed my eyes, and took the unthinkable step out of the heated window edge. The sounds of the emergency sirens, people yelling, and the static voices communicating through walkie-talkies and crackling fire. All the noises faded in the distance as I fell five stories high.

The wind gushed past as I squeezed my eyes close. I knew my mother would not steer me wrong. I trusted her as much as she trusts me. It has always been that way since Dad left us.

I could taste life on my lips, maybe this wasn’t so bad, a new beginning, burn the past and start fresh. Maybe it was meant to be.

The mustard angels caught me in the soft meshed net. I should have trusted them from the beginning. They lay me with ease, my Mum rushed over and hugs me, ‘It’s going to be okay Ben, I promise.’

She gave me a warm feeling just like the flames in my room but with life and light.


#DWTSmith #shortstory


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