City on fire by Ankita

A thud woke me up from my slumber. I opened my eyes and wondered if my mind was just playing tricks on me. Another thud made me jolt up from my bed. Instantaneously, I heard a shriek that made me run to the door and yank it open. The sight that I saw was, well, confusing. There were people everywhere; some were talking on the phone, screaming on top of their lungs while the others rushed down the stairs like their lives depended on it.

I wanted to ask what was happening, I wanted to know why everything was haywire I wanted to be informed but I was either ignored or screamed at. After 15 minutes of getting pushed around, I was the only person left in the lobby. Not knowing what to do, I followed the herd, I started walking towards the stairs but a faint sound of the television made me stop in my path. I followed the echoing resonance; it led me into a familiar looking apartment.

“You are still here? I am surprised.” I heard someone say. I turned around to see Martha, my 72 year old neighbor. She walked towards me using her crutches.

“Why? What happened?” I asked her, she gave me a puzzled look.

“There have been numerous air strikes in the city, my dear. The entire block’s on fire the only building which is safe is ours.” She smiled at me. “God has been gracious.”

There was an attack on my city and I slept through it. How could I have been so oblivious? I looked at my phone; I had received no calls in the last three hours. My head was pounding due to the newly found information. Martha saw me check my phone and gave me a sad smile.

“My condolences, darling. I can understand. Both of us are in this room because nobody cared enough to help us out.” I was taken aback. Her words felt like somebody has stabbed me in the gut. It is always so funny to me how you are doing fine until someone actually asks you “are you fine?” How is it possible that a single comforting touch on the shoulder makes you go from a calm and composed adult to a cry baby in seconds?

“I…think I should get going.” I ran down the stairs, with beads of tears rolling down my cheeks. The windows showed me a sight of horror. I sat down, completely lost.

I had never gotten anything wrong in my 28 years of existence. From being a top notch student in school to never missing a single promotion, I was always looked at as a blessed champ. But one day, just like that, I went wrong. I had turned into a corporate monster; humans were nothing more than a resource to me. They just became the decorative pieces on my social media accounts. To this night, I can vividly hear my best friend saying “One day you’ll have no one and you’ll regret treating people like they don’t matter.” And I can see myself shooing her off as I typed away on my laptop.
As I sat there on the stairs of a random building in a random town, enjoying a view more horrifying than any other, I wish I had the heart to let her know that I do, I regret it. I could’ve burned down to ashes today and nobody would have known, nobody would have cared. I laughed at the irony. The city and my life had one thing in common, from afar it looked lit up but little does anyone know that it was actually on fire.  

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