Black Smoke

I am Betty. A couple of days ago I turned 23. I live with my mom and my brother in a small town called Cape May in New Jersey, America. My mom is an architect. After not working for about three years to be supportive for me while I was getting used to my wheelchair, she returned to her work last month as I didn’t need her help anymore. My older brother, Alex is physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist which has the biggest impact on my recovery. 

My story begins 3 years ago. It was the beginning of summer vacation. There I was waiting outside my dormitory with all of my stuff packed, for my father to arrive. He was about fifteen minutes late, which I guess was due to the heavy traffic on account of the holiday. I couldn’t have guessed at that moment what this fifteen-minute delay would cause. 

As we approached the fork in the road back to the town, I saw the pickup truck with its brakes blown which was coming directly towards us at full speed from the opposite direction, while continuously turning the flashlights on. It was that same moment we tumbled down the cliff. When I regain consciousness I was in terrible pain all over, but there wasn’t any feeling in my legs. I couldn’t look at them because of the collar around my neck, it was like they weren’t there. My mother, who was lost in thought, realized that I was awake and rapidly turned towards me. Her red eyes were swollen, and her face was full of worry. I thought about every possible situation while preparing for the worst scenario. Not so long after, my fear became a reality. My father couldn’t had made it. 

  In these miserable three years I took a break from school, had dozens of surgeries and physical therapy. My brother spent his night and day to heal me, he attended every seminar to learn something new whenever he got the chance. Thanks to my brother’s determination and my belief in him, I started to feel tingling in my right leg, albeit very rarely.

 I woke up to my alarm ringing multiple times. I have one of my routine checkups today. Nowadays I go to the hospital once a month. I haven’t been up early for a long time, so I feel tired and sluggish. But I need to wake up quickly and take a shower. After I silenced my alarm, I went down to the kitchen in my wheelchair with the elevator my mother had specially made for me. I turned on the coffee machine and went straight back upstairs. I got into the shower after getting the towels from the closet. It wasn’t even ten minutes before the lights went out. I just stood there with shampoo in my hair. When I took my towel and went out into the hallway in my wheelchair, I saw smoke coming from downstairs.

I was trying to keep my calm but I couldn’t, I couldn’t. When I went to my room to get my phone, I found it on the nightstand by the window, but it wasn’t wide enough for my wheelchair. Fearing the smoke filling the room, I found myself by the nightstand. I took a step or two. I can’t believe I did this! I immediately called the fire department. The last thing I remember was the red and blue lights of the fire engine reflecting on the window, which was barely visible through the thick black smoke, and the sound of the siren echoing in my ear.


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