ONE

By Brynn Simon

It takes about four hours for the hospital smell to wear off.

It takes an additional fifty minutes to work up the courage to walk past the
hallway mirror and stop staring at the pink and black charred flesh that runs from my
left brow bone to my bottom lip. ‘You’re so lucky’, they tell me, ‘you could have died.’
This doesn’t feel like luck. Luck would have been my family walking away instead of me.

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. It was supposed to be painless, and at first
it was. I sat against the garage door, breathing in the carbon monoxide, watching the red
tail lights as they began to blur and eventually fade to black until I couldn’t tell if my
eyes were opened or closed. Or if I was even alive.

Then I woke up. The red tail lights blinded me as they covered everything in their
glow. Thumping was the only noise I heard, over and over again, as my lungs screamed
to keep up with my fading heart. My head moved like the minute hand on a
clock, each gaze took time to adjust. ​Three other hands appeared beside my own
as I slowly reached down for the metal bar at the bottom of the garage door. The wrong
hand attempted at grasping the handle and my body collapsed against the cold concrete.
My hand ran along the white painted wood until it felt the piece of protruding metal and
clawed at it upwards desperate for air.

The door lifted a foot off the ground and I dug my nails into the driveway,
dragging myself away from my personal gas chamber,​ choking for oxygen as the
night radiated away from me like gas fumes.

My house glowed red and orange as flames danced through the rooms of
the second floor and jumped out of the windows before sliding down to the
first floor.

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.