Prologue; The Price.
I remember it so vividly.
Everything was slurred in amazing hues of red and orange, dancing along every surface it would allow itself to swirl upon. Loud, spine-prickling cracks sounded every few seconds, though they were nearly impossible to hear over the frightened shrieks of terror and agony.
I could recall, as I lied in my bed only moments before the flames engulfed my body, my mind speeding along a well-paved path of recollections of petty, unimportant thoughts. They seem so far away, thinking back to it; now, I would give anything to have those thoughts be my main priorities, to be the worst of my problems.
Without a second's notice, flames had crept beneath the small space between my door and the beige carpet lying beneath it. Within minutes, I too was crying out in pain, gasping for clean, fresh air to enter my lungs. The smoke all around me was constricting my lungs, forcing the oxygen out of my throat, being replaced with that thick, gray smoke that acted as a blanket, covering everything around me, warming everything it touched.
Oh, the smoke. It, in itself, could honestly have been worse than those skin-searing flames. The gray smog curled itself around me; it was everywhere. I could not escape it.
Only in death could I escape those deadly gases.
But death would be a joy I would never get the chance to relish in.
And, then, I felt the fire.
Those terrible, terrible flames that forced my skin to peel away from the white bone beneath it could never be stopped. My life was slowly, painfully being etched away, leaving me with something I would never be able to demolish for as long as I lived.
Soon, as I had come to find, all of the pain would cease. It would end, and I would never feel that terrible notion, pain, ever again.
But for a price.
I awoke the next morning, covered in ashes. I soon learned that I had not died; I was not even burned in the least bit. No deep gashes where the flames should have charred my skin, no scars from burns which could never be erased.
So confusing, how when I walked from my burned room, searching for the two people I cared about most, I observed that my parents had mysteriously disappeared. Something was not right, I could feel it with all of my being.
I stopped by the local hospital; they might have been located there.
When I stepped through the automatic doors and into the hospital, something felt completely out of place. I felt as if I did not belong there.
Once I had found the rooms my parents were located in, I made my way up the three floors, towards the burn unit.
And that's where I saw them; both beds lying side-by-side, their faces holding a look of calm upon them. But . . .
Their bodies were burned completely. Red puss and deep ebony scars had engraved their way into the faces of my two beloved parents. How could I have not been burned, where they lay in the hospital on the verge of death?
I did not understand.
Suddenly, a pang of dread shot through my bodice, and I knew why I felt so wrong in this hospital. The reasoning behind it was completely unorthadox, but I knew that the reason I had just imagined must be true.
I was not thier child anymore.
Something told me that no matter how many times I denied it, when they awoke, they would not remember I even existed.
This felt so true; the reason could not be explained, why I was not considered their kin any longer. Nothing could explain it.
I waited and waited, day and night for my parents to awaken. It took at least seven days for them to regain consiousness, perhaps longer.
But when my mother opened her eyes, her eyes held complete confusion. She gazed up at me, and asked me who I was. I told her, grudgingly, that I was her daughter, and that I had always been her daughter.
She shook her head and denied ever giving birth to a child. I glanced at my father, who looked just as confused as my mother.
When the doctors entered the room for the first time since I had arrived, as if noticing me for the first time, they inquired as to who I was.
I answered the question the way I had answered my mother's: that I was the burned civilians' child.
They narrowed their eyes at me and told me that they had no paperwork stating that either of them had ever bared a child.
And so, I left.
Never have I ever visited that small town in Maine since that day. I left my home, and the two people who I had dared call my parents. They did not remember me. No one did. It was almost as if I had been wiped off the face of the planet that night of the fire, yet I was still living.
I was alive. I could breathe and function like any normal human. Yet, at the same time, no one knew this. No one remembered me, or that I was alive.
Things had changed since that night, so many years ago.
My skin has turned pale; it is almost unnatural how pale I truly am. Unhealthy, even.
I do not age; my body remains in the form I had been in on that night. I was seventeen, and, to this day, I still do not look a day over that age. It can not be explained, and I wonder if I can ever explain it and not sound completely mental.
I can not breathe. Or, rather, I do not have to. It does not kill me if I do not inhale, and it never will. I have naturally taken to not breathe; it's much more comfortable that way.
I can not bleed. I have tried many, many times to get myself to bleed, to show that I am human. It is impossible; I gave up long ago.
I know nothing of pain. Ever since that night, the night that I should have died, I can not hurt myself. I once fell from a tree after the incident, about seven years ago. I didn't even recieve a scratch. No broken bones, no agony of impact. Nothing can hurt me; nothing.
There are things that can never be explained, and things that should never be explained. There are things that need to be explained, and things that do not.
I am all of those things.
I have had my share of problems since the fire. Obviously, things have happened to me that are unexplainable. All of the issues I have encountered listed above are not nearly as terrible as the final side affect of living through that horrible fire. The worst, I am afraid, I have saved for the last. Nothing can change this fact, the one that I would give anything for to change in the final outcome.
But I will never be able to change my fate.
I, Rosalie Cleveland, can never die.