The Window

Three women are trapped in a burning house.  With no safe exit on the ground floor, the women flee up a tall staircase.  At the top of the stairs there is a long hallway lined with windows. 

The first woman sees smoke streaming out of an open window.  She runs to it and begins to climb through.  Seeing the long drop to the ground, the second woman screams, “No!  Don’t jump.  It’s too far!”  Fearing the orange glow behind her, the first woman jumps out the window.  She survives the fall, but both of her legs are severely broken. She never walks again.

Fire begins to eat its way up the staircase.  The remaining two women begin to cough and choke as smoke fills the hallway.  The second woman runs along the hall until she comes to another window.  Faint light shining through the glass beckons to her.  Through the smoke she sees that the land behind the house has sloped higher.  The fall is not as far.  Seeing her chance, she frantically tries to open the window, but it is stuck.  She begins to scream and beat her fists against the glass.  “Stop!” cries the third woman, “Not that way.  You’ll hurt yourself!”  The second woman doesn’t listen.  She breaks through the glass with her hands and jumps out the window.  She survives the fall, but the flesh of her arms is sliced to strips from the broken glass.  Her arms are painful and scarred for the rest of her life.   

The third woman is alone in the hallway.  The smoke is so dense that she can no longer see a way out.  The building cracks and shudders around her.  The stairwell collapses onto the floor below.  The woman, faint and suffocating, drops to her knees and crawls along the hall until she feels a hot wall in front of her.  A dead-end – the woman cries out with her last breath, “God, help me!”  She curls into a ball and waits to die. 

Suddenly, the wall beyond the woman crumbles to a heap of ash.  Heat and smoke are sucked past her into the void.  Fresh air brushes the woman’s face and she opens her eyes.  She can see a faint light beyond the jagged ends of the floorboards.  She crawls toward the light and the air.  At the edge of the floor she is surprised to see the rock face of the hill just three feet away.  Seeing her salvation, the woman jumps to the rock and climbs to safety.  As the skeletal remains of the house collapse to dust, the third woman walks away unharmed. 


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