“Aftermath” was my debut short story. It centers on a house fire. My grandfather was a fireman, and so firefighting was always a subject for discussion as I grew up.
Excerpt from “Aftermath”
The ceiling beam was smoldering on the staircase, but the flames had not yet ignited the first floor. Michelle grabbed the cell phone from the table.
When they reached the front door, Paul took one last look at the staircase before he followed the two women out the door to safety.
Michelle dialed Alice’s number as she stepped out on the porch. Sirens in the distance let her know fire trucks were on the way. When Alice’s phone continued to ring, Michelle said a silent prayer that Alice and Donna were already out of the house.
Suddenly there was a loud cracking noise, and the west corner of the duplex collapsed. That was the corner where Alice’s and Donna’s bedrooms were located. Michelle froze.
Ronnie shouted, “Get off the porch, Michelle. Move into the yard.”
She turned back toward the house to help her sister.
At the same time Ronnie’s foot hit the first step, Paul hollered, “Ronnie, look out!”
She looked at Paul, who was reaching for her when the roof collapsed. Paul gabbed for her as the wood fell, but there was nothing he could do, but scream, “Veronica!”
“Aftermath,” originally published as part of an anthology in 2012, is included in “Long Stories Short.”