The Girl Who Stole From Fire
Chilly, stale air reeked of urine and musk as walls marked with various obscenities led a
path of bugs and blood up to their third floor, studio apartment. The coughing crack feign lying
like a shriveled corpse across the hall blocking the third-floor elevator shot a stare of desperation
as he watched them entering their new home. They could hear the slight pitter patter of roaches
scattering as the hallway light entered the dark drab apartment. There were only the two of them,
the four-year-old girl and her mother. They were embarking on a life of independence and
struggle unsure of where it would lead them, but at the least they had one another.
As the door shut behind them, there was no light in between those four walls. There was
no heat to combat the cold winter winds seeping through bullet holes in the window frame. A
slow constant torturous drip of leaking water through busted pipes was the least of their worries
as the sound of police sirens and loud, profane arguments served as the soundtrack to their new
gloomy scene. She could both hear and see her mother’s breath as she released a sigh of relief
into the freezing air. They sat together locked in a tight embrace against ragged, rotten floor
The warmth of her mother’s embrace provided a calming sensation to the child. For a
brief moment within her mother’s arms, she was not aware of the winter chill that broke into
their domain. The dark shadows dancing across the four walls of their home attracted so little of
her attention. The many rats, spiders and roaches seemed to be invisible as she became lost in the
nurturing rhythm of her mother’s heart. Not even the loud complaints rumbling from within her
starving stomach could distract her from the pleasure of her mother’s voice.
Thump. Thump. Her mother’s heart beat so soothingly. It created the familiar
melody of her favorite song. No fears, don’t cry. Her mother’s voice softly ran across a solemn
note. Just feel my love. My one sweet child, my heavenly dove. She closed her eyes and
envisioned herself and her mother alone in a beautiful garden surrounded by singing doves.
Here in my arms is where you will be. The evils of this world, you will never see. The
heavenly vision unfolding within her mind became that night’s dream as her mother continued
with the chorus. Hooold on! Staaay calm! You are safe within my arms! You are safe within my
arms! The girl had easily fallen asleep. She was safe within her dreams, completely free of any
fears. She felt nothing but the hope of her mother’s arms. You are safe within my arms!
It seemed like barely a moment had passed before the raging flames disrupted the girl’s
slumber. She leapt forward from the creaky floor boards at the sight of her mother standing,
screaming before the doorway of fire. Waves of red, yellow, and blue flames raged forward
against her mother’s attempts. Thick smoke accompanied the stench of dry burning wood. Her
mother frantically waved a blanket battling against the invading smoke and fire as it slowly
consumed their small apartment.
“Maaaamaaa!!!” the child screamed.
After having finally realized that fighting the hell flames was an inevitable loss, the
mother rushed to her child. “It’s okay baby. We’re going to get out of here.” She spoke as calmly
as the situation would allow her. “We’re going to have to go down the fire escape.”
“Mommy, I’m scared.” The little girl cried.
“Everything’s okay, baby. We will always have each other.” She looked into her
daughter’s quivering eyes and forced a smile.
Flying embers danced through the air landing across the mother’s back. She wanted to
scream at the pain of her singed skin, but she had to remain strong for her daughter. Quickly she
wrapped her arms around the child, using her body as a shield from the approaching flames, and
dashed towards the window. The flames continued to mount at a ferocious pace as the mother
struggled pulling against the window. She pulled as hard as she could but it would not open.
Through the window, she could see that down below a crowd of spectators had formed.
She slammed her fist against the glass screaming for their help, but all they could do was watch
in anticipation. No one dared to enter the building as it was now the hell fire’s domain. The
flames raged over the building, creating the image of a maniacal smile. Its fires, like arms,
wrapped around the sides; making it clear that the building was in its possession. Media
helicopters circled the building broadcasting the story of the building on fire. Police and
firefighters stood before the crowd below, attempting to plot a plan of entry as the flames lashed
against their hoses. It fed on the water. It was unlike anything they had ever seen before. The fire
would not relent and by the looks on their faces, the mother knew that she and her child would
not be rescued.
As clouds of smoke left no fresh air to consume, the mother’s lungs burned intensely and
the sound of her cough grew more fatal by the second. She continued to shield her child, but
there was nowhere to hide. The girl’s skin grew pale as she struggled to inhale. The child’s tiny
body would not be able to battle the oxygen-less air for much longer. The mother grabbed the
blanket and wrapped it tightly across her arm. She then took one last look at the mounting flames
before sending her blanket wrapped arm through the glass window. The glass shattered
unleashing slightly more oxygen into the room, but the oxygen also fed the flames.
The fire raged forward now with even more determination. The mother lifted her
daughter and pushed her through the hole in the window. “No mommy! I won’t leave you.” The
“Baby, please, just climb through the window. I’m coming behind you. Remember, we’ll
always be together.” The mother urged her daughter.
The girl quickly jumped through the hole and out onto the fire escape as news helicopter
focused on her soot and char blackened face. They immediately broadcast her fear filled eyes as
she watched her mother reach through the small hole of broken glass. The mother winced with
pain as the shards of glass pierced her body, but she continued to struggle forward.
“Maaaaa!!!!” the girl screamed as the flames launched forward engulfing her mother with
a tirade of smoke and fire. The child was blown backwards against the railing of the fire escape
as the blast completely consumed her mother.
There was not one dry eye in the nation as the media immediately broadcast images of
the girl’s teary eyes across the airwaves. She lied paralyzed by shock with her back against the
railing facing the growing monster flames. The shadow image of her mother falling into its grip
reflected throughout the surface of the hell fire. Together mother and daughter had known
struggles that most would never believe, but they were always together. As she watched the
flames reach across the window sill, the girl was forced to face a future without her mother. She
was forced to struggle alone.
No fears, don’t cry. Just feel my love. My one sweet child, my heavenly dove. The girl
stood to her feet and to the surprise of the world, she sung. Her sweet, beautiful vocals were
broadcast across every television set in America. Here in my arms is where you will be. The
evils of this world, you will never see. The fire lashed out against her but she stood tall without
even slightly budging. She continued to sing, not to the fire or to the world that watched; but to
her mother. She sung, Hooold on! Staaay calm! You are safe within my arms!
The flames roared loudly filling the air with a giant dark cloud of menacing smoke. The
scene was the physical incarnation of a nation’s nightmares, but the child was not afraid. She
closed her eyes and once again, felt the warmth of her mother’s embrace. You are safe within my
arms! The lyrics resounded within the minds of the spectators. They charged against the
barricades as officers warned them to stay back. The fire continued to grow and unleash ominous
amounts of smoke into the air. The black smoke filled the air as a warning to the people. It was a
warning of the fire’s power. It was a declaration that they could never save the child, that she
was inevitably his.
As frightening and ominous as the dark clouds were; the beauty of the girl’s voice as she
continued to sing over its loud blasts, motivated the people. You are safe within my arms! They
pushed past the officers and firemen, rushing into the building. The flames enraged, but they
leapt through following the sound of the child’s voice. You are safe within my arms! Floor
boards gave way as many of them fell to their deaths into pools of hot fire. Thick smoke filled
many of their lungs causing them to lose consciousness and bow down to their demise, but a few
of them continued to push through. They used police shields to rush through the flames, while
others stayed low and sprayed hoses up the stairwell. The fires continued to rage in the presence
of the water, but all it took was a second of relief for the spectators to continue rushing through.
It wasn’t long before one man made his way up to the third floor. He held his breath and
charged through the apartment. He ran through flames feeling nothing but the beauty of the
song, You are safe within my arms! With nearly fatal burns, he pulled against the jammed
window and forced it open. The flames relented as he continued to charge against their burn.
They whimpered before the man’s unyielding courage. He jumped through the window and
locked eyes with the girl as she continued to sing. He felt power standing before her. She was no
longer just a child. She was not merely someone’s daughter. She was something larger. To an
entire nation, she was what her mother had always been to her. She was a symbol of hope. She
was the girl who stole a nation’s fear from fire.
You are safe within my arms!