Save Me

Save Me

A Story by lost sock

     He stood tall, staring straight ahead as people came up to him offering their condolences. He didn't want their sympathy, but he nodded his acknowledgment politely. They watched and waited, he knew, for him to cry, to break down. He remained stoic.
     Eventually, they gave up on him. The mourners slowly filed out of the cemetery, one by one, heading home to their loved ones while he remained alone. This was how it would be, he realized, from now on. He had no one to go home to.
     He took a moment to look around. Everyone had finally left. He allowed one tear to slip down his cheek, then another. Soon, it was as if his tears controlled him, even though he had worked so hard to keep them back. He fell to his knees, sobbing over the casket.
     He wallowed in self-pity before anger gradually came through the grief. He didn't deserve the right to cry any more than she deserved to die. Forcing himself to stop crying, he stood up again and turned around, unable to face her. He hated himself.
     “I'm sorry,” he whispered. “I'm so sorry.”
     It was his job to save people, to get them out of harm's way. She was the one person that mattered most to him, and he couldn't even do that for her. She had called him a hero so many times, always praising him for the lives he saved. Even if he couldn't get someone out in time, she would comfort him. “You can't save everyone,” she would say. Her words haunted him now.
     He kept expecting to feel the gentle touch of her hand rubbing up and down his back as she tried to soothe him, telling him that everything would be okay. He fought back another burning onslaught of tears, knowing he would never hear her voice again.
     He could still feel the blazing heat from the flames that had devoured her office building, could still smell the thick, black smoke. The cries of people trapped inside still rang in his ears. He once again thought to the reason she was gone.
     He was trained for speed, trained to be prepared for any situation. But when he saw the building engulfed in flames, he was rendered immobile. Those five seconds of neglected responsibility were just long enough to steal the life from her.
     The irony gnawed at him, a constant reminder that he was a failure. She had married a firefighter, yet lost her life to a burning building. He hadn't ever been a religious man, but he felt that if a God existed, it was one with a cruel and sadistic sense of humor. He glared at the sky, the direction of his fury shifted from himself to whatever higher being there may have been. He cursed the heavens for taking her from him. Then, he let his head drop in defeat.
     He knew that all blame rested on his shoulders. Though he hadn't been the one to set the fire, he certainly hadn't done much in the way of damage control. Brushing the residual tears from his eyes, he turned back to face her squarely.
     “I'm no hero.”

© 2008 lost sock

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Great story. Really grips the heart. I have alway had a thing for men in uniform and fire fighters especially! It is a very dangerous job. Life is full of terrible irony that bites us all along the route. I would say the 5 second delay is not really a believable aspect to the reader on whether it would have made any difference to the outcome of such a fire, but we do magnify these circumstances to exam if we could possibly have changed events. Life and death in the blink of an eye. A heartrending story. Well done on giving it such depth of feeling. Tai

Posted 16 Years Ago

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Added on February 7, 2008