The morning held a silence that made Donna hold her breath not knowing whether Sam was all right or not...she sat on the sidewalk waiting; listening to see if there were any other signs of life.
All she could hear was the wind as it swept past her making her shiver not only from her wet skin but also from the sharpness the wind held. Donna remembered well the day she had met Sam. He was a skinny ten-year-old boy with stringy, sandy, brown hair. He had two front teeth missing, making him look old when he smiled. She remembered feeling unsure whether he would be someone she would want to get to know.
That was 12 years ago when he was the boy next door; who would have ever imagined they would become best friends? Sam had been there when Donna lost her dad, and when she broke her leg after she fell from the tree hut they often played in. Now she has no idea whether he made it out of the house before it burned down.
ONE WEEK EARLIER:
“Sam, where did you put the matches? I need them to start the fire it's getting cold outside and I have clothes to dry for tomorrow’s interview."
“They are in the top drawer where they should be.”
Donna hated matches knowing how simply they could start a fire, but to light the gas fire she had to use something and matches was all they had.
No one can replace a life once gone. This is how Donna felt as she sat there remembering the week before. Donna could feel people running around her, fire-fighters trying to dampen all the hot spots, neighbours standing on their lawns staring at the scene, afraid to say something in case they overstepped the mark. There was a police officer asking questions, she knew it would be a matter of time before he would approach her as well. The smell of burned wood and clothes filled the air; her lungs felt like they too were on fire. All Donna wanted to do was find a dark corner somewhere and sleep, hoping when she woke up this day would play differently somehow....
“Excuse me, Are you Miss Cooper? Miss Donna Cooper?”
“Yes, I’m Donna Cooper can I help you” She looked up and saw it was her turn to answer questions to the only police officer who looked like he would rather be at work eating doughnuts or something. She didn’t feel like answering any questions not until she knew whether Sam was alive.
“Please officer, could you tell me if Sam Donaldson made it out of our home?”
“Look Miss Cooper, right now the main concern we have is making sure you are all right. You need to let me ask the questions at the moment. What happened today?”
“Please officer, I’m tired; I need to get to the hospital, can I answer all of your questions later after I’ve rested?”
The noise from the hallway was keeping Donna awake
She knew she would be all right and wanted to leave the hospital yet no one would let her. Her head was pounding and her lungs were sore. She was nothing like others having to be there so why couldn’t she go home? And what about Sam; there had been no word yet about how he was or if he even made it out alive.
The day before:
“Donna, would you please tell me why there are so many clothes around the lounge? I am having a girlfriend over later and would like to have some room to sit on the couch.”
“Sorry Sam, I was trying to sort out all my old clothes to give away. I think I got a bit carried away. I’ll do my best to get them all picked up for you by tonight.”
Feeling pissed off that he had to live with such a messy friend, Sam left the house hoping it would all be better later.
Donna woke and yelled out for Sam, she knew he wanted her clothes picked up before his date arrived.
There was nothing but silence.
She was still in the hospital. It was dark except for a little light above her head. Donna focused her eyes and saw a tray of food was waiting for her. Knowing the food would be cold by now she pushed the tray away, pretending her stomach wasn’t growling in protest.
A nurse walked in with a thermometer and stethoscope ready to check Donnas’ vitals so she could rest more.
“Good evening Miss Cooper. Did you have a good sleep?”
“No, I didn’t sleep well; no one will tell me if Sam made it out of the house”
“Miss Cooper, everyone wants to be certain that you have no injuries before you can see Mr. Donaldson.” I can tell you they found him and pulled him out of the fire but that’s all I can say”.
"What! That isn’t enough. He is my best friend I have known him for twelve years, we grew up together. I think I should know how he is. Can I go see him?"
“Look Miss Cooper, I’ll ask someone for you and see what they say; I know you lived together but hospital policy says only closest relatives can see him. I’ll see what I can do, please rest some more so you can go home tomorrow."
Donna closed her eyes hoping that she would sleep; she knew that no matter what, by the end of tomorrow she would see the man she knew now was more than a friend.
“Donna, wake up Donna, this morning is your interview, you don’t want to miss it.”
Oh wow, umm what’s wrong with me Sam, I had the most horrible nightmare. There was a fire in our home, I made it out but no one would take me to see you and show me you were all right. I’m glad I was only asleep”.
Of course I’m fine Donna, look at me I’m right here alive and well. Now get moving or you’ll be late.
“Miss Cooper, wake up Miss Cooper. Your mum is here to take you home”
What, no, I’m already home she thought as she felt someone’s soft hand touch her shoulder to wake her up. “Where is Sam, he was just here or in my room so I thought? Where am I?”
“Miss Cooper; you’re in the hospital after being in your home when it burned down.” Donna opened her eyes slowly hoping that as her eyes focused she would see Sam sitting next to her bed. But as her vision became clear so did her mind. She remembered that today was the day after the home they owned together was now ashes. As far as she knew so was Sam. Where is he? The nurse had said she could go and see him. Jumping out of bed, Donna grabbed her robe to find someone who would take her to Sam.
“Excuse me nurse I’m ready to see Mr. Donaldson.” She made sure she had the nurse's attention; “Sam she thought, here I come.”
Donnas’ heart began to race as she was being lead down the ward and into the elevator. She was not sure what she would do first when she saw him; hold him kiss him or tell him how much she loved him. She knew after going through something like this a person needs to take hold of the one they love; she realized that this is love she felt for Sam, it was no longer friendship. She would never let Sam out of her sight again.
The elevator stopped, the doors opened; Donnas’ legs felt weak as if she were about to faint. The nurse stopped at the door “Here you are Miss Cooper; take all the time you need.” In all the excitement Donna could hardly breathe as she glanced through the window.
Three days later.
Standing cold and wet Donna felt her heartbreaking. “Why, Sam, why didn’t you follow me out of the house?"
Donna was alone with Sam, only it wasn’t Sam but Sam’s grave. Donna's heart ached as she watched his coffin sink into the dark hole where he would stay for eternity.
The tears that flowed mixed with rain could never show how much Donna was hurting inside. The police had come to see Donna at her mother’s home yesterday. They had told her they found the cause of the fire was from someone trying to light the gas fire. The person who started the fire had not made sure the match was out when they placed it in the rubbish tin next to the gas fire. The paper inside the tin caught fire and in a short time the clothes that were in the lounge had become ablaze. It was only a matter of minutes and the house was burning. Donna, that day had jumped in the shower; she only had time to get a robe on when she realized the house was full of smoke. She had barely made it out. Sam had his date coming over later so he had lied down. He never woke up again.
Sam died because of her carelessness. She had lost the only one she would ever love. How would she ever forgive herself and carry on without him?
Editor : Awriter