A Tiny Shift

It started, for me, with a golden glow, like sunrise but in the middle of the night.

A brightness emanating from my bedroom window lured me from my slumber.

I stumbled from my bed, drawn first to the light and then urged on by sounds of distant sirens.

At 11, anything involving loud noises would pique my curiosity, but at this time of night, the only sound I knew was that of the ceiling fan.

On the other side of that glass, I saw a monster consuming the Miller’s house, flickering flames of an angry orange dancing in the night sky.

In their yard, I saw her, Madeline, in only her nightgown, and for a moment I felt ashamed to see her in that state.

I wanted to run to her, call for help, grab a bucket of water, so many things!

(Move, do something, think! Why are you such a useless fool?)

I just stood there, staring at her, and the fire grew larger as the sirens grew closer.

(Where were they? Her brother? Her mom and dad? Punkin, their lab?)

Something collapsed in the corner of my eye, but I couldn’t tear myself from Madeline, her face still, like it was in math class when she was bored.

Then she must have noticed me, her porcelain face looking up toward mine.

(I’m sorry, Madeline, so sorry!)

In the glow of the fire I could see that one little thing then, that little twist of her mouth, a tiny shift really.

(Maybe I didn’t see it. Maybe… I could be wrong.)

And all these years later, I still wonder if maybe I am.

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