The smell of cinnamon, pine trees, and peppermint fill the apartment. My Christmas decorations are scattered around the floor, waiting to be hung or placed. The holiday season is quickly approaching and I am slowly preparing for it.
This morning, I set up the Christmas tree in the corner of my living room, but it still needs to be decorated. Yesterday, I hung garland over the fireplace and put little nutcrackers up to sit on top. Red and green were all that the eye could see, which made me excited.
Christmas is my favorite mortal holiday and it always would be. The world seems to light up with a different kind of happiness and cheery spirit during the holiday season.
In the kitchen, trays of cookies were cooling on top of the marble counters, leaving room for little else. That meant I would need to order some Chinese take out for dinner to limit the mess. Looking around, I see flour and sprinkles littering the floor and cabinets. I take a deep breath and sit in my kitchen chair. There is flour on my face, hands, and apron. My hair is tied up in a high ponytail to keep it from falling in my face while I work in the kitchen.
Suddenly, I feel a pull on my pant leg. I look down to see Duck, the red fox that Nemesis gave me, tugging on my pant leg. Nemesis told me that the little thing followed her home and wouldn’t leave her alone. She knew how badly I wanted a pet fox, so she gave him to me. Duck has been one of the best presents I have ever received, my favorite gift. He is still young and a lot of work, but I don’t mind. I pick him up and put him in my lap.
“What would you like, little guy?” I ask him, scratching his chin.
He makes a high pitched bark and licks his lips.
“Oh, are you hungry? Would you like food?”
The fox jumps off me at the word food and runs over to his pantry. I stand to join him. His pantry is a small fridge full of meat that foxes can eat. I tap my cheek thinking of what to feed him. I decide to give him a rabbit leg, his favorite meal. I toss it into the air. Duck jumps, catching the food in his mouth before scurrying off. I shake my head laughing. One thing Duck does different from most pets is to eat his food in private. When he is done eating, he will return and put the bone in front of the sink.
Walking over to the coffee machine, I make myself some hot cocoa and put two marshmallows in it. The cup is warm to the touch, which feels nice since the apartment is always a bit cold. I walk to the living room and turn on the TV. My favorite show comes on, and I take a seat on my red couch. I take a sip of my drink and let it warm me from the inside.
Without warning, a sharp and sudden pain runs from the tip of my skull to the beginning of my spine. I place my mug on the counter and grab my head. Every inch of my head is pounding, and I scream out in pain. The room slowly starts to spin, so I try to find a clear place to lay down. I can feel my body start to tingle and feet go numb. It is an incredibly uncomfortable sensation.
“Fuck, why now?” I ask myself.
Then it happens. My eyes go blank, my breathing is jagged and my body starts to shake uncontrollably. I am taken back to the past.
A piercing scream rings in my ears as I look at the scene around me. This memory is as clear as day. I came to Pompeii to study an artifact when the tragedy occurred. In the distance, I see Mount Vesuvius spewing lava in the air. Black smoke covers the sky. People are pushing past me on the streets, carrying all the goods they could hold. I know it is too late for them, for all of them. Soon they will choke on the thick smoke or burn up from the lava. It makes me feel sick just thinking about it. All I can do was watch.
A cry of a child catches my attention. I turn on my heels and see a little girl around the age of four, standing in the middle of the crowd crying. In the corner of my eye, I see a lady who has collapsed and is not moving. I assume it is the girl’s mother. My heart aches for the child and I chew my lip.
Should I? I think to myself. But I would get in trouble…
I look at the child once more. Her hair is a mess and she has dirt on her face. If I save her, I would be interfering with fate. Could I really just leave her here to die? I jump up and down on the spot, thinking of what to do.
Taking a deep breath, I run through the crowd. I pick up the girl and push through everyone. She is still crying, but I hold her tight, determined to save her. Blood-curdling screams echo behind me, but I don’t look back. Every second is precious time in getting this child out alive.
I don’t know how much time passes, but I manage to get her out of there. She is unconscious, but it is nothing a little fresh air couldn’t fix. I take her to the next city and pass her off to a couple. My heart still hurts, and my eyes burn from both tears and smoke. I hear my name called out from behind me.
“Miss, What is your -”
I gasp, my eyes shooting open. I see Duck is cuddled up beside me. His eyes are wide and looking straight at me. My body is still shaking from the flashback I just had. I slowly stand up. My head is pounding in my skull. I run over to the garbage and throw up what little I had in my stomach. These episodes always drain so much out of me. Wiping the vomit from my mouth, I head into the kitchen.
“I guess I have to start eating these cookies early…”