Flames of Freedom

4 min
Your life can change in an instant. Everything can be perfect. You have no reason to fear, no reason to call upon courage, and then everything changes. Everything you’ve ever feared comes rushing to you. How are you supposed to be brave when everything you’ve ever relied on is gone? How are you supposed to go on? Is it possible to just stay strong? Can you be brave, courageous, when everything, everything is gone?

After what happened, I knew nothing would be the same. But did I want it to be the same? Everything was perfect before. Too perfect. My life was a dream. The perfect fairytale. And in one moment, it all changed. I lost everything. There was no way I had the courage to go on. My whole life was shattered.
I was the most popular girl in school. I had every guy running after me, but I had my heart set on one guy in particular. The school’s star basketball player, and I got him, just like I got everything else that I had ever wanted. I only needed to ask, and I immediately got it. My family was rich. The richest around. We had a huge mansion, the fanciest of everything, and I was the only child. The one that was going to inherit it all.

My whole future was planned out for me. My life was a map; a perfect plan for a perfect girl. I knew that I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I didn’t need to be brave. I had no problems. Everything was handed to me on a silver platter.

Which looking back on it, wasn’t the best thing for a high school student to believe. I made some pretty stupid choices. All of them led up to the moment. The moment that ruined my life.

It was a normal fall day. Everything was perfect. When I got home though... everything was gone. I couldn’t see an inch in front of me. Smoke filled the air. I stopped the car a few blocks away, and yet I was still inhaling smoke. It was deathly hot. Firefighters fought and fought. They tried their hardest, but they couldn’t stop the fire. Our house burned to the ground that day. Everything inside was lost, including my parents.

I was all alone. Completely and utterly alone. Homeless and parentless... And why would anyone want me? The police tried to take me in, tried to take me to a facility where they would help me, but I refused. I had a plan, and no one could stop me. Even though I had lost almost everything, I still could have anything I wanted, right?

They tried to figure out what started the fire. They couldn’t figure it out, but I knew. It was all my fault. It was an accident, but still my fault. I had caused the fire that killed my parents and destroyed most of our- my fortune. All because of my stupid mistakes.

I had made many enemies. Not many people actually liked me. I was just some stuck-up rich girl. I didn’t care about anyone; why should they care about me? I wasn’t very nice at all; I was a complete jerk. Why wouldn’t someone try to take everything I cared about away from me? I mean, I took away people’s pride, people’s honor, people’s self esteem, every single day. Why not hit me where it would hurt me? They could have done many things. But this... This took away my pride. My family, and my money, was gone. I had lost everything. What did I have to feel pride about? My actions? No. I was a terrible person. I know that now. This took away my honor. My family was gone. How would an orphan have any honor? They took away my self esteem. I had lost everything. My self esteem was built around what they had destroyed.

The house wasn’t burnt down in arson. It was burnt down by my stupid choices.They had to come back to haunt me. Someone didn’t come up to my house and burn it down out of hate. But something had happened. Maybe the dares I did to try prove I was brave, but it would have been braver to not have done them. It was my fault. Even if no one else knew, I knew. Even if there wasn’t any logical reason behind it, I knew that it was my fault. There was no proof. There was nothing.

Would I be able to face the future? Would I be able to face my friends? Anyone? I had no clue. My set out perfect plan for a perfect person was ruined. Sure, I still had some money left in a bank. But I couldn’t use most of it until I was eighteen. I still had a few years. The problem was my perfect plan had my family in it. Now they were gone.

Before this had happened the thing that was most important to me was money, my high standards, and stuff like that. But losing everything changes you. And not always for the better.

As I stood there staring at the empty black hole in the ground, I realized that I wasn’t perfect. I never had been. In fact, I was far from it. I had ruined many people’s lives. And now I had ruined my own.

Guilt can do terrible things to you. Even when you have nothing to actually feel guilty about. I hadn’t actually started the fire. Even indirectly. But the weight of it all, the pain, caused me to feel like it was my fault. Even though it wasn’t really my fault, it sure felt like it at the time. It took forever before I could forgive myself for something I hadn’t even done.

The only thing left was a family picture. It was in the fire, but the wind blew it out to safety. It was still burned. Half of the picture was completely incinerated. All that was left of the picture was me. Even the picture of my parents burned with them. All I had left of them were memories and wads of cash stored in a bank. The picture just reminded me of how alone I was.

The next couple of years were a blur. I had to start new. I moved in with my great aunt and her family. They were happy to have me, and all felt bad for me. I didn’t live a life anywhere as luxuriously as before, but I still found happiness. It didn’t happen all at once. It took time, but I got used to it, and I was actually happy. Only, this time it wasn’t in the fancy clothes, or jewelry, or boyfriends. It was in the little things. The fact that I had a roof over my head. And new family that cared about me and took care of me. The beautiful sunrises and sunsets. And the flowers. Oh how I loved the flowers.

My dad used to tell me that courage came from within, that you can only give yourself courage. No one else could help you to be brave. It was something you had to learn how to do yourself. You had to be brave yourself. And being brave isn’t the absence of fear, it’s doing what you are scared of even when you are afraid.

And I learned that myself. Sure I didn’t know what was around the bend anymore. I didn’t have some luxurious plan. But I had hope. And that was all I needed to have courage to face the future.

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