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Ashes


by Stephanie Flint


Copyright 2012 Stephanie Flint.


All rights reserved. No part of this short story may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.


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~*~


The sky is darker than I remember, and a shape forms above me, blurry. "Matthew?" I ask. My head smarts. I cough, tasting acrid smoke, and my fingers touch a sticky warmness on my forehead. There's a cut there; I don't remember why. The gray metal of a helicopter glints in the fire from the building a block away. The warning system is playing repeatedly, but for the life of me, I can't tell what it says. A firm hand grips mine and then it's Cory who yanks me to my feet, not Matthew. "Come on!" he says. "We’ve got to get inside."

What else is there to do? He half drags me into the lobby of a restaurant. Traces of fresh pancakes and hot maple syrup and pungent coffee smells mix with the ashy gunpowder odor from outside. The place is astonishingly empty for the morning hour. We navigate past upturned chairs and coffee stains, broken mugs lying forgotten on the floor.

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