Flames roared up the walls, setting the curtains to fire. The smoke was so thick Hailey could barely breathe. Red and orange reflected from her eyes as she was in search for her family. The fire’s intensity was spreading so quickly she could not find her way out of the house. She just decided to lay there in the only corner that wasn’t set to flames. She figured someone would come.
The fire started on a Saturday morning as Hailey’s mother was cooking bacon and eggs for breakfast. Her mother, Sheila, realized she was late for work and asked Hailey to take over cooking. Being irresponsible, she went outside to discover more of her new surroundings. It was summer and they just moved to a town with lots of nature-being city people, everything was really different.
She studied the ocean from her porch and let the sun shine down on her dark brown hair. She walked over to her cat’s water dish to refill it. In the dirty water she saw bright vibrant colours. When she turned around her heart nearly dropped.
She rushed inside to look for her dad. Before the fire he was passed out on the couch still drunk from the night before. Both of her parents were heavy party animals and alcoholics. Her father was now gone and didn’t come back for her.
The fire was so close now her fingertips were roasting and her hair was beginning to singe. She heard a voice call out
“Is anybody here?” then Hailey felt just a little bit of hope
“Yes!” she shouted “In the corner!”
There was barely anytime. The fireman came in and picked her up. He covered her face as he rushed out of the house. He set her down and the rest of the crew continued to spray the bright fire. Her parents were gone, her house was gone, and her life was gone.
She watched the remains of her home continue to burn up. Everything her and her family owned was now ashes. Hailey tried not to cry but she couldn’t help it. Her life had flashed before her eyes in a humongous flame. She decided to move on and run away or else she would become an orphan.
She walked for what felt like decades but was only an hour and a half. Hailey was starving. She skipped breakfast and hadn’t eaten since dinner the night before. Her beautiful shimmering blue eyes were now droopy from exhaustion and she needed to rest. It was hard to walk on an empty stomach.
She would’ve lived somewhere else, like at a friend’s house- if she had any. She was new here and had only been to school twice. When she was introduced, they looked at her like she was some sort of animal, and she definitely didn’t feel welcome.
Instead she continued to walk through town and mind her own business. Her stomach was driving her crazy, and she didn’t know when the next time to eat was. She felt really embarrassed because she was still in her tank top, pajama bottoms and slippers. Fortunately, she grabbed a sweater before she went outside.
The morning had been comfortable and warm, but now the skies were set to overcast. The clouds were a dark grey and moving fast from the wind. It looked like a storm was heading Hailey’s way, so she needed cover fast! The bad thing was there were a lot of the stores had a “No Loitering” sign hanging around somewhere.
She studied her white slippers that were a tiny bit scorched. All of a sudden she stopped. She slowly raised her arm and was frightened by what she saw. There, before her very own eyes was a six-inch burn abraded up her arm. How did she not feel it? Wouldn’t it hurt?
Of course she didn’t want to, but she just had too. She casually strolled in the store. When she walked in to the station, the man behind the till warmly greeted her at the door. As she walked through the store she picked up some chips, vitamin water and pretzels. Hailey walked into a corner and shoved the items up her sweater.
The man threatened to call the cops, but she outran him. She ran so fast, the back of her throat started to burn in pain. The problem now was that she was lost in the deep woods in the pouring down rain.
She decided it was time to take a break because her heart felt like it was going to explode out of her aching chest. She was hoping she would find shelter soon, but for now, she needed to eat.
What she ate was just enough to stop her stomach from making awful growling noises. She knew it wouldn’t last for long, but she just had to try to survive as long as she could with what she had eaten.
She continued to walk on her sore blistered feet to find a place to nap. Hailey was exhausted! She didn’t want to waste her only water source, so she took small sips of her vitamin drink. She knew she would be thirsty later.
The trees were drenched with rain and there wasn’t much protection from the falling water. The wetness was dripping through the holes in the tree canopy. Hailey was hoping the weather would get better soon.
She walked and walked for a long time. The rain had cleared up a bit but there was still moisture in the air. Once in a while a small drop of water would fall from a tree branch, running a cold chill up Hailey’s spine.
Hailey was about to give up when she noticed a cave. Not a big cave, but big enough to fit a body. She grabbed a stick to clear any cobwebs hanging around. Her stomach was beginning to growl again but she was too tired to care.
She didn’t realize how long she had slept, but when she awoke, it was a nice looking morning with the bright sun peaking in between the trees. With her stomach now aching, she decided to continue on her journey.
She walked more until she thought her legs were about to give in, but she had to keep going. After all, she couldn’t live in a cave forever! She suddenly stopped and she listened. “That’s it!” she cried softly. What she heard was music to her ears. She heard a loud engine firing down the road at about three o’clock. She knew it was a vehicle. She climbed up a small hill and found a highway heading toward a city. She ran down the road with a thumb in the air. Finally, she got picked up.
Hailey didn’t want to start a big conversation, but she didn’t want to be rude either. After all, the woman (who Hailey later found out was named Susan) did pick her up. Hailey started the talk by saying “Hello.”
“Hello! Where are you off too?” Susan replied.
“Well, I’m not quite sure… where is the best place to eat?” Hailey asked. She knew she didn’t have money, but she wanted somewhere to rest. She also wanted to hear the cheery conversations people were having.
“In my opinion,” the lady went on “I like the ‘All You Can Eat’ buffet myself. Would you like to go there?”
Hailey, without thinking twice gladly said “Sure. I’d love too.”
She thought the woman was going to start firing questions at her but instead, too Hailey by surprize and said “I promise to take you there, but first, maybe we should get you cleaned up a little bit. I’m a single widow who had a daughter just like you, your age, height and everything. I lost her two years ago to cancer. I still have her room and everything in it. You can change into some of her clothes if you would like. You can even keep a purse.”
Hailey was dumb-founded. Yes or no? She thought it would be cool to get some fresh clean clothes. She happily said “Okay. Thanks.
Susan then asked “So where are your parents? Why are you alone?”
Here come the questions, thought Hailey. She was honest and replied,
“I-I don’t know. Our house caught on fire and my parents left me behind I guess.”
“Oh, sorry I asked dear. How sad. I’m sorry, what was your name?”
“I’m Hailey.” The hungry girl answered “My name is Hailey.”
“What a nice name! I’m Susan. What happened to your arm sweetie?”
“I got burned I think.”
“I have some ointment at home I would be happy to lend you.”
“Thanks a lot.” Hailey replied. She was starting to feel the wound sting.
They arrived at Susan’s house and she led Hailey to her daughter’s room. It was a nice shade of purple and had lots of posters of celebrities from the eighties. The occasional creek noise sounded every time Hailey stepped on a loose board in the floor.
She picked out a tank-top, a nice pair of sweat pants and a warm water proof jacket. Over her new tank-top she layered it with a long-sleeved shirt- just in case it got a little chilly. She remembered Susan saying she could keep a hand bag, so she picked out a fake, leather black one. Inside one of the pockets was a twenty dollar bill. She kept it for a cheap lunch and dinner.
When she came out to tell Susan she was ready to go, she smelled something delicious. Susan noticed Hailey investigating the smell and said “I’m cooking hamburgers for lunch. Would you like one?”
This is a no “brainer!” Hailey thought, and with a slight smile she said “Yes please! I would love one!”
She tried not to be a pig, but she gobbled up her burger very quickly. The two girls sat on the couch and chatted for a bit while munching on cookies. All of a sudden, Susan asked “Would you like to stay with me temporarily?”
Hailey hesitated for a minute. She didn’t know Susan very well, but she seemed so nice! Also, Hailey didn’t have another shelter or any more food, other than the twenty where she could only afford one Big Mac and a pop. After a few seconds of thinking, she said “I would be glad too!”
After lunch, Susan went out shopping for groceries. Hailey got to pick out some desserts for throughout the week Hailey was going to be sent to the middle school in town and she was very excited.
Many months passed and Hailey felt right at home. She felt like she finally had a family again. Her memories of the fire only floated passed her mind every once in a while. All she had to do was shrug away the thought. For once, Hailey was happy again!