The Story Begins…
Dark plumes of smoke erupted into the sky, startling a young Akiara and those around her. A hint of fear inched its way into her mind and for a moment, she couldn’t help but watch the dark smoke dissipate into the gentle breeze. Tendrils of the wispy smoke drifted over to her location, washing over her and wrapping themselves around her lungs. Coughing ensued and by the time she was able to regain her senses, those around her had already brought out their phones; presumably to call emergency services. Fear began to control all reason and one word dominated her consciousness: “run”. However, she couldn’t help but realize that the fire was coming from a very familiar house. It was, in fact, the same place she walked by almost every day and fed the cat that lived there. Now frantic, Akiara disregarded her own safety and ran as fast as she could towards the furious blaze. She vaguely heard voices calling to her but all that was on her mind was saving her precious friend.
Rounding the corner of the street, the full tragic scene came into view. A small family was huddled together a safe distance from the blaze and looked onwards with despair in their eyes. Several bystanders were furiously yelling into their phones while the rest simply observed nature’s wrath. Wading through the dense smoke, no one noticed Akiara as the smoke and the fire demanded everyone’s attention. The closer she got, the more apparent her fears became; her friend was nowhere to be seen. She walked right up towards the edge of the crowd and frantically scanned the space in front of her, looking for some indication of their presence. Seconds felt like minutes and just as she was about to give up hope, a faint meow made its way towards her and she distinguished a small shape near the entrance of the building. With adrenaline fuelling her actions Akiara fled towards the structure and now in plain view, people began to call for her.
“Young lady, get back! It’s dangerous there!” as well as a mix of other voices bombarded her, but they all fell on deaf ears. The fire was becoming unbearably hot but with her goal in sight, Akiara wasn’t about to give up. Short of breath and coughing furiously, Akiara reached the building and scooped up the mewling ball of soot that was her dear friend, Suki. Tears streaming down her face, she held Suki close and attempted to return to safety. However, the combination of smoke and shortness of breath made her stumble and fall. As the light began to fade from her eyes, the small kitten entered her vision and she couldn’t help but notice it was missing an ear.
“Akiara, did you get breakfast ready for me?” a voice called.
Looking up from her book with mild annoyance, Akiara sighed. Her sister, Mitsu, could be annoying sometimes. Perhaps even a little more than “sometimes”.
“Maybe if you’d actually woken up with your alarm, you would have been able to get it yourself.” Not bothering to wait for a response, she grabbed some toast and dropped it on a plate; alongside a banana and some butter. As she opened the fridge, the cool air washed over her and dispelled some of the late-summer heat. Grabbing some orange juice, she began pouring it into a glass when her eyes happened to glance over at the clock. Noticing that it was almost 8 am, she picked up her pace and quickly dropped off her sisters’ breakfast at the table. Akiara began frantically grabbing all the books and supplies she’d need throughout the day. As she began closing her bag the boxed lunch that she’d prepared the day before came into memory and she hurriedly grabbed it from the fridge and made her way to the door.
Stepping into the entrance hall, she was met by a ball of fuzz that brushed against her and looked up at her with happiness written all over its face.
Glancing down, a smile appeared on her face. “Hey, Suki. I have to go now. Have a nice day, okay?” Bending down to quickly pet the cat, she couldn’t help but notice the missing ear. Memories of an event from years ago drifted into her consciousness but they quickly washed away when a familiar face peeked into the room.
“Thanks for breakfast” Mitsu’s cheerful voice exclaimed. “See you after class.”
“You’re welcome, but please just try to get up on time”
Standing up, Akiara made her way towards the door. Setting her bag down momentarily, she slipped her shoes on and gave one last glance behind her. Mitsu had already left the room but Suki had remained; lying down and looking lovingly in Akiara’s direction. Giving a small wave Akiara stood up, grabbed her bag and left the house; ready to start her day.