She stares at the blaze reflected in the pond.

“What have I done?”

Emergency personnel will arrive soon. A fire of that size can’t go on unnoticed. She needs to disappear.

She cups her hands, sinks them beneath the surface, and splashes water on her face to wipe away the soot, but she feels she’s only smudged it deeper into the soft tissue of her skin, darkening her complexion to that of a solider in camouflage deployed to the South Asian jungle. He aims his rifle at the half-naked boy holding the grenade and debates whether to shoot, or let them both die.

She coughs into her arm, a dry, raspy cough that constricts her lungs. Smoke inhalation from staying inside too long, lingering by the crib in the nursery. She could’ve at least taken the baby. It never asked to be here, but then, it never asked to stay either.

And it was so much easier to escape without the burden of having to quell a crying child.


It is Short Story A Day May, and today’s prompt asks us to write a story with a hidden message. This is kind of a stretch, but I would say my hidden message is “between the lines,” meaning let the reader figure it out. What did our protagonist do that would force her to run away, and can you speculate why she did it?  By the way, the title is also a clue. 😉

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