On Fire – A Tell Tale Poem

The pungent smell of smoke tickled the inside of his nostrils, disrupting his steady breathing pattern and sleep.

A certain warmth pressed against his still body, the pressure of heat slowly building up until he jolted awake, suddenly aware of the fact that his world was on fire. Flames licked the gap underneath the flammable door, threatening to spill into his room and devour the rest of his living space. He jerked out of bed, tangled in stained bedsheets. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t see. He could only feel the smoke beginning to coat the inside of his lungs, and his breath began to come out in little puffs of panic and anxiety. The oak door was eaten by the flames within minutes, where they angrily began blazing a trail toward his rigid body on the floor. People say that memories flash before your eyes before you die, but all that he could think about was the inevitable death staring at him straight in the face.

He always wondered what it would feel like to die. What his last thoughts would be, who he would be with, whether or not he would go happily. When the inferno first reached him, it did so timidly. The blaze came into contact with his toes, slowly enveloping his feet and dragging itself up his legs. The heat scorched his skin, pangs of agony reverberated throughout his entire body, but he did not struggle. He felt comforted by the stabilizing pain of fire. His bedsheets
provided no barrier for the fury of the blaze, they only added fuel to the conflagration. By now, his torso was practically eaten up, but he was still conscious. Scraps of his recollections, of the constant recitation of “Stop, Drop, and Roll” in his younger days, floated into his brain. He couldn’t suppress a giggle from bubbling out of his mouth, “Stop, Drop, and Roll” would do absolutely nothing in a situation like this. Blistering heat stabbed into every crevice and lit his body up from the inside out, gradually, his vision spotted.

The incessant screech of the smoke alarm punctured his ear drums and he lurched awake. The smoke alarm blared overhead, disrupting his unsteady thoughts and forcing him to become alert.

Thin smoke billowed into his room from the crack under the door, and he jumped out of bed, but this time, he didn’t fall.

By Nicole Figueroa


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