Dana ran into her door and bounced back with a strange look on her face. Oh, the key, right. She seemed to have locked the door when she left without even noticing. That was probably due to the clashing thoughts that fought for attention in her mind. There was just too much going on in her life, she wished God would give her some rest every once in a while.

Once the door was unlocked, she pushed hard against the heavy wood and unscrewed the bottle of water that she had just gotten from the kitchen. Her hair was greasy and small sweat peals ran down her forehead. She did not like it, but there were more important things to care about right now.

As the water ran down the hot desert in her throat, she sat down on the chair and breathed in deeply for a few times. She just wanted a few seconds until she headed off again. It took her some more seconds in the silence of her small room than she expected, but finally she straightened her back and screwed the bottle. “Let’s get started”, she said to herself.

Quickly she went to the shower, thinking about how she would set up her presentation for the 50th time. It was so important that she did well. After all, her whole next year depended on it. The presentation would decide whether she was accepted in the exchange program with the Tokyo University, where her Asian studies would blossom like a crocus in spring. She liked that thought. That is why she was so eager to get this place and has not slept in two weeks, working endlessly on that bloody presentation.

And what had happened this morning, right before the important meeting? Her dress, which she had specially bought for the day, had a faulty seam. How could she have missed that in the shop? All her senses had scanned the dress at every inch and it had seemed perfect back then. Luckily, she had been able to get a new one this morning, but only by running all the way into town and back.

Actually, that was the least of her worries. While she soaped her hair under the smoking stream of water, she thought about Michael. She hadn’t seen him since Christmas and it has been way too long. The problem was, he didn’t even know she had applied for the exchange program. Today, she would finally have to tell him, but she didn’t dare to imagine what he might say. Why all on one day?, she asked herself.

Suddenly, a high-pitched noise came through the glass door of the shower. A reverberating ring sounded outside somewhere. Then it struck her. The fire alarm went off. But then she relaxed a bit. They had fire alarms at least once a week, so it was likely just another stupid neighbour who left the kettle on. Still, she hurried to wash the soap out of her hair and turned off the water. The alarm was much louder now and started to pinch her ears. It was the most annoying sound she could remember. She dried her hair, legs and arms in a rush and put on the bathrobe that hang at the door.

As she tightened the waist belt, a rank smell crept up her nose. Shock mirrored in her eyes as she recognized the smoke that twisted its branches at the foot of the door. This time remembering to unlock the door, she pulled it open and found herself covered in dark smoke. The fire was obviously in the hallway or right across the bathroom in the kitchen. She ran to the bathroom door but shrank away from the handle as it was hot like a flat iron. What should she do? She looked at the window across the room, but the stupid security locks prevented her from opening it more than 10 inches. She was thin, but not thin enough for that to squeeze through.

Next try, she used the towel to pull the handle down and tugged at the heavy door. The heat that came into her direction almost burned her skin. With half closed lids, as the smoke stabbed her eyes, she tried to find the exit. With her hands spread to both sides and knees awkwardly bent, she made her way forwards, cold sweat running down all over her. She felt her mind going numb, but she pulled further on. There she was, at the exit door. As she tried to open it, a horrible fizzling came from her boiling flesh. She had forgotten to use the towel. Screaming, she dropped to the ground, right next to the kitchen door, where she could see wild fires grabbing after tables, cupboards and then also herself.

Her head felt heavy and she did not even feel the bump when she fell onto her shoulders and rolled on her back. She rested in an uncomfortable position with her legs at an angle and her head to the opposite side. Her last thought was: “Fuck, keep low to the ground when there is smoke.” She did not hear the door opening anymore and a shadow crouching over her numb body.


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