This week’s Prompt over at Mum Turned Mom is the word ‘Smoke’. I don’t smoke. So I thought I’d try my hand at this thing called ‘flash’ fiction – it’s short! I hope you enjoy it!
The first unnatural thing Penny noticed as she drove up the hill towards home with her little girl was the quality of the light. It wasn’t sundown but there was something of the burnished autumn leaves in the way the clouds presented, hanging ominously above an otherwise unremarkable scene. The second thing was the smoke.
Her heart leapt with excitement and adrenalin – something different was happening in her neighbourhood – an event that was likely to bring slippered neighbours out of their homes to nod and whisper and wonder and finally talk to one another after years of brief and guarded greetings.
She slowed the car, and it was then that the truth dawned on her – the smoke she had seen was coming from her own home. In her rush to pick up Trix from nursery she had left a tray of winter vegetables roasting in the oven on a low heat. Now she realised they had been in far too long and must have caught alight somehow.
Under any normal circumstances her mind would have leapt to the destiny of her beloved shelves of books, carefully collected over the years, some signed, some first editions. Or she would have ached with the potential loss, smoke and water damage that was sure to engulf the perfectly designed and decorated nursery that she and Jacob had created with stars in their eyes in those heady days after finding out that their second child was to going to be a little girl.
But not today. Today was the day that she had caved in to Benjy’s repeated requests to be left at home to play his DS instead of accompanying her to the nursery to get Trix. He was seven wasn’t he? He knew not to answer the door. She would only be gone for 15 minutes. As it was, the nursery key worker had kept her talking and she’d been gone twice as long as normal.
Time, briefly, stood still as a silent scream bubbled up inside her, but there, emerging from the billowing clouds of acrid smoke was a lone firefighter and in his arms, her beautiful boy, choked and tear stained but otherwise undamaged.
As the old song goes ‘smoke gets in your eyes’ but Penny knew that the tears streaming down her face at that moment were something else altogether.