128 - last cross
moke billowed out from under Tiffany's door. Her roommate, Tanya, debated what to do. There was still time for her to save herself. For the moment, the door was holding back whatever calamity was happening in Tiffany's room. But Tiffany was still in there. They had been best friends since the sixth grade. Tanya couldn't just leave her in there.
Nervously, she pounded on the door a few times. "Tiffany? Can you hear me?!" she shouted. There was no response in the seconds where Tanya waited. Adrenaline had by now worked its way throughout her body, and she finally had the courage to go in.
The doorknob was scalding to the touch. Fortunately for Tanya, she did not have to touch it for very long, or exert much force. The events inside had consumed much of the oxygen in Tiffany's room, and the difference in air pressure easily forced the door open.
Tanya found a raging fire in Tiffany's room. It seemed like everything was aflame, the curtains, her desk, the bedding. The heat was stinging her body, and the thick smoke which she had originally seen seeping out of Tiffany's door now choked her lungs and obscured her vision.
Tanya couldn't see Tiffany from her position in the doorway, and every instinct in her body told her to just turn around and run. She fought those urges and pressed on, deeper into Tiffany's room. Just a few footsteps in, her feet made contact with something on the floor. The air was so smoky that Tanya couldn't make out what it was. She knelt down. It was Tiffany.
"Tiffany! Are you okay?" she asked. She gently shook her roommate's head a few times and saw no reaction at all. Tanya feared the worst, but either way, there was no time to dwell on Tiffany's condition. It was time to leave, there was no stopping this fire.
Tanya was soon grateful for a few things that she had never considered before. One was that Tiffany was a lighter and smaller girl than herself. Another was that they occupied a ground-level duplex, and were not stuck on the thirtieth floor of some high-rise dorm. Third was that Tiffany's bedroom was closest to the front door.
Even with all these small miracles, Tanya wasn't quite sure how she made it outside with her roommate's limp body in tow. The fire had consumed so much air, and in its place thrown up so much smoke, her body felt starved for oxygen. Yet, here she was, on the front lawn, with Tiffany. Tanya was breathing heavily and coughing, while her entire life was starting to go up in flames behind her.
She tried to be gentle with her roommate now that they were both safely outside and away from the fire. Under the streetlights on the road in front of their house, Tanya was relieved to see that Tiffany was breathing, albeit weakly.
In the distance, Tanya could hear the approach of sirens. Good, somebody had called the fire department, she thought. Tiffany, breathing in the relatively-fresh night air, also seemed to be coming to. She gave a few tentative coughs, and opened her eyes.
"Tanya..." she stammered.
"Easy, easy, just take it easy. It's going to be okay," Tanya said.
Tiffany's eyes wandered around. She continued to lay prone on the ground, but she could still catch a glimpse of the burning building from whence she came.
"I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry," Tiffany said, with the slightest hint of hysterics creeping into her voice.
"Sorry? There's no need to be sorry," Tanya said reassuringly.
But Tiffany just shook her head slightly. "Sorry, I just wanted to," she trailed off.