by Kate Braithwaite. Published by Philadelphia Stories, Spring 2011
The first thing is we smell smoke.
The Living Skeleton – Isaac to his friends – is the only one still stuck upstairs with me. He’s got one foot on the fire escape, skinny ribs slipping between window and sill, and he’s shrieking at me. ‘Come on Annie!’
My legs are not my best feature – never have been – but now they’ve rooted like winter wheat and I can’t move. Panic seals up my throat. I have to rip my tongue from the roof of my mouth.
‘Come where?’ I gasp. ‘Through a slit of a window or straight through the wall? That fire escape’ll never take my weight. Get help. Just try Isaac, try.’
It’s the most I’ve ever said to him.