Jessica Van Der Lek, Grade 9, Ulverstone High School -
She’d always told herself not to do it; roam the streets of New York alone at night, familiar flickering streetlights; her only source of light.
The heels of her black leather ankle boots echoed off the graffitied walls as she hurried along a block of what seemed like never ending houses.
She carried on walking along the footpath passing bewilderingly similar houses until she reached a crosswalk.
The city was still awake; car horns and chatter could be heard as she approached a busy street.
The silver watch on her wrist sparkled from changing traffic lights as the ongoing traffic began to slowly shift forward.
At last the lights of the pedestrian crossing signalled green; the cars decelerating to a stop.
She began walking amongst the people, fastening her pace halfway across when the light flashed yellow.
She separated herself from the bundle of people who strayed beside her on the sidewalk, clutching the straps of her worn striped backpack with cold, shaky hands.
Fog escaped her mouth as she exhaled deeply, alone again in a deserted street.
A cold breeze picked up; silhouettes of trees swaying side to side as she shivered.
She grew anxious in the isolated street. Freeing her hands from the bag straps, she began to fidget with her fingers.
She started to observe her surroundings; narrow alleyways between towering apartment complexes, the darkness lurking behind her on the footpath.
Her feet ached from the great distance she’d traveled but at long last, she was nearly home.
She felt relieved nothing unpleasant had happened despite how anxious she was, or so she thought...
Approaching the end of the driveway she began to cough at the smell of heavy smoke.
She dropped to her knees, small rocks jabbing into them. She didn’t care; she felt completely numb watching the one thing she had left of her parents, burn.
Sirens wailed in the distant, each siren becoming slightly louder than the last.
It felt so unreal.
She’d do anything for this to be a horrible nightmare, to wake up to everything okay. But that wasn’t going to happen.
This was real life.
It killed her to know there was nothing for her to do but wait for the emergency services.
She was useless. Absolutely useless.