June 5th 2017 was the 12th anniversary of Jake’s father’s death. Now 17, he tried to treat it as any other day. He went to school, ate lunch with his friends, and took the bus home.
Jake didn’t like thinking about his dad. Not because he missed him. He felt guilty that he didn’t miss his dad, especially when he’d see how sad his mom was. He knew his dad was a good man, but being five at the time of your dad's death doesn’t leave much time to make memories. And, the memories Jake did have, faded a little every year. He didn’t like thinking about that.
While riding the bus, Jake buried himself in his video game system, like he did most days. Much more so today. He didn’t want to think about anything besides beating the Dragon on Level 12.
He didn’t even notice that all the others on the bus had moved to one side, and were staring out the windows.
He tried to beat the dragon once more. Eight losses. He pulled the string above his head, and exited the bus with a long sigh.
Jake’s neighborhood was normal, middle-class American. All the houses looked similar: One story, two cars in the driveway, sometimes a basketball goal here and there. He dodged every crack and bump in the street without a second glance.
Jake arrived at his doorstep. It was the only two-story house on the street. His dad’s life insurance paid for part of the house, but his mom still had to work 12 hour days to pay it off completely. His mom still managed to find the time to decorate the exterior of their home with several flower gardens that Jake always tried to remember to water.
He entered five numbers into the lock system, and went in. He threw off his headphones, and started towards the kitchen. He caught a glimpse of the large portrait of himself, his mother, and father hanging on the wall above the kitchen table.
People always said Jake looked like his dad, but he didn’t think so. Jake and his dad had the same slight overbite and green eyes, but that was where the similarities stopped. Jake had light brown hair, cut right above his eyes, compared to his dad’s short red hair. Jake was also tall and thin, more like his mother.
He sat on the couch. His eyes were slightly stinging, so he figured it may be time to take a break from the game. Jake closed his eyes, knowing that the only way he’d avoid thinking, was to sleep.
He woke up half an hour later to his phone ringing. The caller id read: MARCUS.
“Hello?” said Jake.
“Jake, have you seen what’s going on?”
“Why are you calling me? I thought we agreed texts only.”
“Dude, just shut up and go outside.”
Jake sat up, and pulled the curtains. He saw how dark it was outside. Way too dark to be so early in the day. He stepped outside, and finally saw what everyone had been so interested in. The forest was almost completely lost in the flames. All his neighbors were outside too. Jake watched dark clouds of smoke drift into the sky, and wondered if anyone was burning in the flames.
...Thank god no one in the city could hear the screaming coming from deep inside the forest. The animals made way more terrifying noises when in fear and pain than the people, she thought as she made her way through the trees.