The dust motes moved through the sky weightlessly, almost dancing in mid-air. “No, not dust, ash.” She had to remind herself continuously. The ash was what appeared to be dancing. “Maniacal celebratory ash.” The morbid irony was repulsive. Something she’d never forget. All her thoughts were like this now. Deep and meaningless. Contradictory in their consistency. All of her thoughts, with the exception of one that played on repeat in between performances of her mind’s traumatic soliloquies.

The door had failed to latch.

She’s thought it, spoken it, sung it, coughed it, laughed it, and cried it. That simple thought no longer resonates gratitude. At first, it did. At first, when there was smoke and commotion and chaos, she’d been grateful.

The door had failed to latch.

The screaming sound of sirens and the acrid smell of burning flesh continued to haunt her dreams at night, even after all this time.

The door had failed to latch.

She’d remembered amid the horror, the sound of screeching metal about to give way and collapse. She’d remembered.

The door had failed to latch.

Ironically it was a fire door. A faulty fire door, with no sounding alarm, she’d failed to report to the proper security personnel. A fire door she was never meant to use. But she used to smoke.

The door had failed to latch.

She’d snuck out the faulty fire door, for a week, to smoke because she hated her fucking job, couldn’t tolerate the people in her office.

The door had failed to latch.

That day, a day she will never forget, in the middle of the maelstrom where everyone in the city was reduced to basic survival mode, rampant mass confusion spread throughout the streets. She’d remembered.

The door had failed to latch.

She escaped through that door, the door no one else knew was defective. The only fire door on her floor of the building, due to its faulty nature, that was operational that day. No one knew precisely what caused the malfunctioning emergency exits on her floor. Maybe the initial impact maybe the heat, no one knows. But none of the other doors, on her floor of the building, allowed survivors to exit freely onto the street that day. Exit into the city’s wailing pandemonium and dancing dust motes.

“No, not dust, ash.”

The big apple. They took a bite. Not with teeth but with screaming planes. She’d survived because the door had failed to latch, and she’d remembered. But told no one else. It all had happened so fast. Now they’re all dead, the people in her office—old office—except for her and her hate.

At first, she’d been grateful for her own survival. Now she was haunted by all their deaths. She never honestly wished for anyone to die. She may have hated her job, but it didn’t mean she wished for her coworkers to die. Hate was capable of bringing down towers and taking lives. She hated her confusion, hated her hate.

Her mind was now filled with miniature dancing dragons infiltrating the city. Tiny dust motes of fire. “No, not dust, ash,” she whispered.

© Grace Black
525 words

Fiction Written for The Speakeasy #127

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