The sky is on fire


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“Mama look! The sky is on fire!”

Sonya smiled at little Jean. “No baby. That’s the sunset.”

“But mama, there’s flames and smoke.”

“That’s the sun and clouds, Jean.”

“No, mama. Look!”

Sonya looked up and gasped. Across the bay she saw smoke and fire rising from the long dormant volcano. She scooped up Jean and ran as fast as she could, bare feet collecting sand as she went.

“Dominic, we have to go. The mountain is erupting.” Her husband looked up from his phone, annoyed. He followed her pointing finger and blanched as he saw the first signs of lava slipping over the side.

He didn’t even stop to grab their things. He ran for the car, Sonya in hot pursuit. Jean stared over her mother’s shoulder. “Mama, the clouds are moving.”

Sonya spared a glance back. Great clouds of ash filled the sky, blotting out the setting sun. It fell like snow, choking everything. She coughed. She pulled Jean close, sheltering her daughter with her own body.

“Hurry, Sonya. We have to get to the car,” Dominic called.

The car was clear on the other side of the parking lot. Already Sonya’s lungs burned. Where the ash touched her skin it felt like she was on fire. Grimly she pushed on. Dominic coughed and stumbled. He caught himself on someone else’s car and pushed on.

Sonya followed him. Jean was whimpering and clinging to her mother. Other people were racing to their cars, scrambling to get inside, to get away from the burning ash. More fell and Sonya found it hard to keep track of Dominic.

She lost him in a cloud of ash. “Dom, where are you?” she called, choking on the ash and nearly falling. There was no answer. “Dom!”

A blanket of hot ash swept over her. She lost her footing and fell, twisting her body so she didn’t crush Jean. Jean was limp in her arms. Sonya tried to rouse her but she was unresponsive. Sonya felt her own consciousness slipping away. She struggled against it but soon the darkness overwhelmed her and nothing remained but silence and fire.

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