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Here is my story:
What was that smell? Saffy sniffed quietly, she was in the library after all. It smelt like a bonfire; smoky ash tickled her nostrils. She looked around, all the other students seemed oblivious to any smells, let alone a smell of soot.
A great wave of fear suddenly paralysed her. She knew what it was. The alarms started screeching their warnings, others rushed out of the building. Saffy was rooted to her chair, her feet felt as though they were stuck in cement. She couldn’t move. She was paralysed. Her heart thumped so hard in her chest she thought her ribs were breaking.
She heard her mum yelling at her.
SAFFY, GET UP, GET OUT OF THERE.
Tears started streaming down Saffy’s face, this was not how her university days were supposed to be. A fire. The building was on fire. She could hear sirens. Oh, thank God, somebody was coming to save her.
Wisps of smoke seeped under the doorframe. The rustle of books as they fell from the shelves and thudded to the ground, igniting into flames, ash particles wafted up into her hair. She felt hot, so hot, she could feel flames licking at the edge of the desk, they would be picking at her feet next.
SAFFY – MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!
She felt her mum push her. On trembling legs, she managed to stand, fumbling towards the door, she reached for the handle. Burning her fingers and palms she opened the door, a red glow greeted her as she stepped out in to the hallway, a fog obscured her vision, she started to cough, stumbling towards the stairs or where she thought the stairs were, blinking furiously to clear her sight, there, there in front of her, stairs, she would make it.
COME ON, SAFFY, ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER. YOU CAN DO IT. I’M WAITING, COME ON!
Her mum’s voice became more and more urgent as she encouraged Saffy to keep going. On the first floor landing she collapsed on to the floor. Hard concrete grazed her knees, the pain bringing her back to her senses. As she tried to stand, strong hands gripped her, hauling her up and half-carrying her down the rest of the flights of stairs, they broke out in to daylight and fresh air. Saffy was rushed to a waiting ambulance where the paramedics treated her burns and gave her oxygen for the smoke she had inhaled.
Two hundred miles away Maggie stood at the kitchen sink, washing the dishes on automatic pilot, staring out of the window she smiled at the antics of her cat who was stalking along the top of the wooden fence.
Suddenly she was engulfed with a great wave of panic. Something was terribly wrong. Fear grabbed her, she grabbed a towel and dried her hands. Standing in the middle of the kitchen she kicked off her shoes, bare toes touched the cold flagstone tiles as she grounded herself. Maggie wrapped herself in a shower of golden light as she reached out to the ether.
Saffy was in danger.
Maggie saw her daughter sitting in the library studiously reading and making notes in her large A4 jotter. She saw the lead in her daughter’s propelling pencil snap and Saffy’s huff of frustration as she clicked a new lead down in to the pencil.
Where was the danger? Maggie reached out, travelling through the ether, touching on sights, sounds, smells and there it was.
She concentrated on Saffy. Calling out to her, Saffy, move, move my darling, move.
It wasn’t working. Maggie took a deep breath, inhaling cosmic energy she tried again. This time she knew Saffy felt her. She called her again and again, urging her to move, one foot in front of the other.
Move, come on, move.
She felt the pain in her hands as Saffy opened the door, she felt the pain in her knees when Saffy fell on to her knees. The granite jolting Saffy back in to awareness. Maggie saw a fireman at the bottom of the stairwell. She pushed him, nudged him forward, she felt his heavy boots on each step, she heard him breathing through his apparatus. His visor was blurry, she saw the scene through a mist. He was trained to use his senses, through his heavy gloves protecting his hands she guided his fingers to the floor on the landing. He hauled Saffy up, half carried out down the remaining flights of stairs and out in to the campus grounds.
Maggie collapsed on to the kitchen floor. Her breathing was ragged as she gulped in fresh, clean air. Tears streamed down her face, smudging her cheeks with grey ash. She wiped the fire dust away and looked at her hands, clean as a whistle. Her head spun with the effort of reaching out, her heart jumped for joy at the safe rescue of her daughter.
Would Saffy ever realise she helped her? Would she talk to her about it?
These questions were for another day. Now she had to fill her car with petrol and travel a couple of hundred miles to make sure Saffy was safe and didn’t suffer any lasting physical damage.
She left a voice mail message for her husband because, of course, he was in a meeting and unavailable, well that is what he would tell her when he arrived home in a couple of days from his business trip. Maggie knew better, she could ‘see’ as well as finding the tell-tale clues on his clothes but that is a story for another time. Her priority now and in the foreseeable future was to get Saffy safely home where she could look after her and keep her safe.
Word count: 960