The Courage of Love

Image of Set Stories Free - 2018
Image of Short Story
Last night was arguably one of the best and worst times of my entire life. It all started once I woke up. I’ve always been used to getting up in the middle of the night for things like snacks and water, but this time was different. I woke up to the smell of smoke and loud beeping throughout my entire house. I realized very quickly what was going on. My house was on fire. I practically flew out of bed as I ran towards the door to get out of my room as fast as possible. However, as I grasped the handle, I felt an almighty burning before I let go. I cried out in pain as I looked down at my now blistering hand, realizing the door wasn’t an option anymore. I looked to the windows, only to remember that I sleep on the second floor, and there would be nothing stopping me from plummeting to the ground and dying. My mind started to rack up a mountain of anxiety as I began to cough from the increasing amount of smoke. I looked around for a heavy object so I could break a window and breathe a little better. I eventually found one in the form of a lamp, so I lunged at it and threw it as hard as I could at my window. Not surprisingly, it didn’t do much, only producing a small crack, but I couldn’t give up. I smashed the lamp against the window over and over, holding my breath so I wouldn’t suffocate from the heavy fumes. After a few tries, I managed to get a hole through the glass, which allowed for some of the smoke to escape. I gasped for air, only to cough violently because of the fact that I was still standing in a smoke cloud. I dropped to the floor and watched helplessly as the licking flames began to overtake my bedroom door. I knew someone had to have called someone to help me. Someone HAD to know I was here! I ran into the connected bathroom and curled up on the floor and took some deep breaths to try to calm myself down.
Suddenly, I heard sirens from outside my house. A fire truck! I felt the hot tears of relief stream down my face as it pulled to a stop. The entire foundation of the house shook as the door crashed open and the sound of boots stomping could be heard from my bathroom. I couldn’t make out exactly what they were saying, but I had an assumption they were looking for survivors. I cupped my hands over my mouth and shouted for the people to come get to me.
“Please! Somebody help!” I heard some more shouting from downstairs before the sound of thundering boots was heard once again. It was much faster than it was last time, and an air of urgency could be felt coming up from the stairwell. I then heard the sound of wood breaking and falling, as well as of the pairs of thundering boots stop. I assumed the stairs gave way to the fire that was slowly spreading, and hoped the firefighter that fell made it out okay. I then heard the bedroom door get kicked in by the other firefighter that was able to make it to the second floor. They were much taller than me, at least 1 or 2 inches based on the glance I gave them. Though, I was huddled on the ground in a pool of my own tears, so I guessed my perspective was off a little. The masked stranger looked around frantically, so I called for them once more so they knew where I was.
“Over here! Please!” The firefighter quickly turned their head over to me, flinching in shock as they saw me. In just a few moments, they rushed over to me and placed a hand on my side as they looked over me like a mother watching her sick baby.
“Are you hurt? Can you stand,” a female voice asked, muffled by the mask she was wearing as well as the crackling flames that ate away at my house. I looked up at her and shook my head no, to which she looked away to think of what to say next. “Okay! I’m going to pull you up and we’re both gonna run out of here together, okay?! Take a deep breath, and I’ll pull you up on the count of three! One!” I began to breathe a lot faster as panic swarmed over my body. I can’t do this! There’s no way I can do this!
“Two!” My lungs tightened up as she counted slowly down little by little. A gulp formed in my throat as I watched the black and gray smoke billow around above the woman that was trying to save me. No, I had to do this. She was putting her life in danger for me. I had to do the same. I put my face low to the ground and took a deep breath.
“Three!” With that, the firefighter pulled me to my feet and huddled me under her arm. Together, we ran through the smoke filled bedroom and out the door. The entire house felt so hot and it demanded that I took another breath. I persisted, looking over at the woman focused on her goal to save me and felt some deep drive to help her help me. We began to run past the roaring flames and down the stairs that were somehow even worse than they seemed to be before. I could feel the wood crumbling under our feet mere seconds after making contact with it, but we continued to push forward. I saw the door through the thick smoke, but my heart was beating a lot faster. My eyes watered and burned as my lungs cried out for another breath and coursed pain throughout my body. I shut my eyes hard, bracing through the pain as my moved my legs with the woman.
I then felt a strong impact as the woman slammed into the now fragile front door with her shoulder, shattering it into thousands of tiny splinters. Once outside, the two of us moved down the outdoor stairs, which were much sturdier than the stairs inside before crashing down on the front lawn. Both of us were breathing heavily, sweat glistening off my skin as I looked over at the woman who saved my life. She took off her mask and wiped the sweat from her forehead before looking over at me with a reassuring smile.
“See? Piece of cake.” Her chocolatey hair poured down her shoulders in waves that were a bit messy, given the current situation. Her eyes were a startling green that pierced into me the longer I stared into them. It was as if I was lost on a field of vibrant green as I found myself getting lost within her features. Her skin, while being covered in soot and sweat, was a rich tan, which contrasted my lightly tanned skin. I swallowed something down, my face beginning to heat up as I struggled to come up with a single word to say to this person.
“Are you alright? Your face is looking pretty red, so I don’t think you’ll faint anytime soon,” she said with a small giggle. This cutsie giggle only caused my face to heat up more, and I felt my hand moved to cover my face from this beautiful woman. Oh god, this was too stressful for me. I was completely embarrassing myself in front of this cute girl! She seemed to catch my air of embarrassment, coming closer and removing one of her gloves. Her hand were elegant and smooth, almost as if she was royalty. She placed her delicate hand on my forehead and felt my temperature before smiling down at me.
“You seem fine to me, ma’am. What’s your name?” The both of us were still sitting on the grass, facing each other as other firefighters seemed to be calming the fire down. I felt a bit bad distracting her from her job, but she seemed to like talking to me, so maybe it wasn’t all too bad. I removed my hand from the face before clearing my throat to speak.
“It’s, uhm, Freya.” The woman laughed in response, going to my side and putting an arm around me.
“That’s a cute name. I’m Kaitlyn.” The comment about my name being cute caused me to blush intensely once again, so I looked away so Kaitlyn wouldn’t be able to see my face as easily. Struggled to form another sentence as I took a deep breath and looked back at her.
“Thanks... your name is cute too.” Kaitlyn flinched, looking away and giving me a quick thank you under her breath. I guess even the bravest souls have trouble when it comes to the pressure and power of true love.