Angie saw the smoke as she began to wind down the rough country road. The smell crept in through the air vents, bringing with it a cold sweat. She couldn’t be more than a mile from home now as smoke overtook the horizon and she got the first glimpse of flame.
“Oh sweet Jesus,” she said to the empty passenger seat. “This has not been my best day…”
Her words trailed off as she came to a stop near the front of the old farmhouse. It had been decades since the place had seen its best day but it was all Angie had left. Her folks were long gone, overtaken years ago by a wicked combination of Marlboro Reds and poverty.
She heard the distant whine of a fire truck and shook her head, knowing beyond any doubt that the fire was going to win this fight. This time tomorrow, the house would be as much of a memory as her family is today and will have taken with it every scrap of her mom and dad she had left… her mom’s tattered copy of The Bridges of Madison County, her dad’s VFW baseball cap, that one photo of the three of them that anchors her bedside table.
She felt a sudden cramp in her stomach and lurched forward as she threw up the scraps of bacon she had for breakfast, trying desperately to remember switching off the stove.