Word of warning, this one shot/short story, contains dark/sensitive themes, such as bereavement, death and suicide so parental guidance is suggested. Also, the event that occured is completely made up, none of this actually happened.
What I Saw That Day
Miranda Smith, All rights reserved
To whomever finds me,
I'm sorry that you had to find me like this, I understand that you may hate me but if you just take a second and to listen to my reasoning, maybe then, you'll understand. I've never talked about that day, not a soul. Until now, that is.
Lorries thundered past the small, poky cafe, rattling the dirty windows as they navigated the bumpy roads. I sighed and stared wistfully across the road, where Claire's Accessories, the Post Office and Mr Chip, the fish bar sat, nestled between rows of dilapidated, two up, two down houses.
I sighed in boredom as I wiped the counter clean with the same dirty rag that had been used to mop up a coke spillage in one of the booths. When I had accepted the job offer from my best friends, admittedly eccentric Uncle Albert, I had been expecting more than five customers in one week.
Oh wait, a customer had just walked in, making it a grand total of six. I threw the rag down and offered him my best smile. He looked to be in his mid-forties, with greying black hair, that was thinning at the top, he wore a shabby leather jacket and when he smiled, too much of his yellow teeth showed.
"Hey, what can I get you?" I asked, trying my utmost to be polite.
"Coffee. Black." He grunted, throwing a pile of change onto the counter and sliding into one of the booths, staring out at the busy street, where busses were rumbling past.
I frowned at his rudeness but counted out the change nonetheless. The customer was always right after all. Terri slid from the back, grinning at me as she wrung her hands. I rolled my eyes and handed her the steaming hot drink for her to carry over to the man.
Terri did it without arguing, plonking it down rather heavily so that the liquid inside spilled over the sides. I rolled my eyes, it was a wonder that Terri was still employed here, I think the only reason she hadn't been sacked was because the boss was her uncle.
"So, dish the goss. Are you and Haden dating or what?"
Ah Haden. Sweet, silly Haden with his infectious laugh and cheeky grin.
I blushed and swatted her with a tea towel. Nosy cow, Terri was.
"That's between me and Haden," I said smugly, crossing my arms.
Terri shrugged and turned away; she grabbed the wet cloth and threw it in my face. I ducked it and it hit the opposite wall with a loud splat. I remember it sliding down the wall, leaving a snail trail of wet as it slid down.
"Whatever, bitch. I'm going for a fag."
With those fateful words, my best friend bounded towards the door.
She never made it.
An almighty rumbling filled the vicinity, loud but simultaneously silent. With an almighty blinding flash of light, the world erupted into chaos. The bang was so loud, yet so haunting at the same time. The sound tore right through me like barbed wire.
I screamed as I was thrown backwards into the wall, making painful contact with the back wall, I shielded my eyes as glass shattered everywhere, showering the entire vicinity in thick shards. The blinding white heat intensified until I could feel my skin burning.
As soon as it had started, the noise ended, the light died and I opened my eyes to a scene of utter devastation. The entire front of the shop had been blown apart, the door in splinters and glass covering every surface like snow.
Flames, hot and thick billowed around the door frame and fear punched me in the gut as thick, acrid smoke filled my lungs. I pulled my work apron over my mouth and stepped from behind the counter, which remarkably remained intact.
Out here, the damage was more obvious. A huge crater filled the street, from some sort of explosion, pipes and wires protruding from the hot asphalt. My eyes filled with tears as I spotted the bodies littering the street and people screaming and sobbing reached my ears.
The damage in the shop was astronomical and irreversible; the booth seats had been blown to smithereens, stuffing and pieces of faux leather still raining down. The ceiling looked as if it would fall down any minute, the crack groaning ominously.
Fear filled my heart as I looked out onto the street at the utter devastation. The road was torn up and curled beyond repair. It was then, as my eyes fell on the bodies that littered the roads that I remembered.
Terri. The old man.
We had to get out of here. Using all of the mental strength I possessed, I started rifling through the debris from the explosion, hands shaking and sobs tearing my throat. In the distance, I could hear sirens waling, the cacophonous sound, combined with the wailing of the people on the street causing a melancholy sound that punched me full on in the stomach. Fear coursed through me and the whole world began to spin as I felt the urge to lose control but I fought it back, tears settling with the dust and burns on my face as I picked through the rubble.
It was a hand, burnt and charred, it remained perfectly still.
I remembered praying that it wasn't Terri's hand. Then I remember feeling sickened with myself as I realised what I'd done. This man didn't deserve to die. With a loud scream, I moved the rubble, heart hammering madly.
What I saw under all that debris will haunt me until I take my last breath. It was the old man, his face was completely burnt beyond recognition, his hair was all gone and his eyes remained wide open in fear, eyelids blackened and charred.
White hot bile crawled up my throat and I turned around and vomited, the acidic taste settling on my tongue with the taste of ash and overwhelming stench of burnt flesh.
Shakily, I turned back to the man, the overwhelming pain and pity felt like an oppressive beast, looming over me. I slowly reached out and felt for a pulse.
Nothing, he was dead.
A cry left me as I found myself confronted with death for the first time. I stumbled backwards, legs catching on a piece of twisted metal that once supported the shattered glass. I continued to dig through the rubble, ignoring the wailing sirens and the flashing blue lights, ignoring the shouts and the loud rumbling of the fire hoses.
I ignored the fireman's pleas for me to leave the building. I had to find my best friend. I had to get her out.
"You have to get out," the man, no boy, for he was no older than twenty, still relatively innocent. "This place is going to collapse any minute!"
"No," I screamed, voice weak and husky."She's still in here; she was just going out for a fag. I can't leave her!"
The man looked at me in sympathy. "I'm sorry, there's no way she would have survived, there's just no way!"
A sob tore at my throat. I wanted to kick and scream at him, I wanted to shout that he was wrong, that Terri wasn't dead. That she was just hiding beneath the rubble, scared and confused. Instead, I numbed myself, and allowed him to carry me to the street.
The devastation was worse out here. What were once houses and shops was no little more than dust and rubble, what were once cars and busses were now little more than twisted metal. I sobbed and tried to block out the pained screams of the people who had lost.
I tried but I couldn't.
Paramedics were slowly working their way through the injured and covering the dead with white blankets. I looked away and suppressed the urge to vomit as I was set unsteadily upon my feet and led to an ambulance.
It was then that my whole world tumbled down that bit more.
My love, my other half, lay dead upon the floor, staring unseeingly into the endless blue sky. A most inhuman sound left me and I fell to my knees, grabbing his torn, blood-soaked shirt and I stared into the eyes that were once full of life; now blank and empty.
I begged and screamed his name for what felt like hours but in hindsight was merely a few minutes but I was merely thrown into the back of an ambulance and whizzed away in a blur of sound and colour.
I was stuck in that hospital bed for days, lost in the memories of the horrific day. On my third day, the policewoman "Call me Molly", came in with a solemn expression and told me what had happened.
Some workmen had been drilling too close to a gas line. It went up. KABOOM. The end. The day after that, the same woman came in and broke the news that my best friend, my other half, my sister had died. They told me she'd died instantly, as if that was supposed to console me.
It's been months since it happened and I'm still haunted daily with flashbacks, I no longer talk to people, just sit in my room, staring at these four walls and lose myself in memories. My heart, once so light and full of light is now dark and empty.
So as I write these final words, consider this my goodbye. I ask not that you forgive me, just that you understand my reasons behind doing this. I love you so much and I want you to move on from this. Goodbye, little sister.