She stumbled over the rocks that had fallen across the street. I caught her by the arm and steadied her. "You okay?"
She nodded and yanked her arm away from me. It seemed like the silent treatment would never wear off. Teenagers could really hold a grudge. Though, I couldn't honestly say that I blamed her, after everything I had said. I was ashamed of myself. She didn't deserve the blame, there was so many things that happened in one desperate moment. Alisha wasn't the problem it was me.
We walked by another collapsed house. The grass was littered with ash, it was completely gray. The whole area was gray, and it smelled of burning hair. We passed by a few more cars, and I kicked some of the tires. They were all flat from the shards of the explosions. It was a miracle that we were still alive.
Alisha pointed to a boat. It was perfectly untouched, huge. Whoever once owned the house that was now a pile of rubble was clearly rich. How had it stayed so perfect? It looked so incredibly out of place with everything around it.
"I always wanted a house boat."
I never thought I would be so grateful to hear a teenager talk in my whole life. "Why?"
She kicked at the soot underneath her shoe and thought about it for awhile. Our footprints left deep impressions in the inch of ash. "I wanted to be able to leave whenever I wanted." She turned back towards the way we had came. I stopped with her and joined her gaze.
It was flattened. The sky looked as gray as the ash from all the smoke and debris that still was caught up in the air. It probably wouldn't settle until the rains came, and who knew when that was going to be. It was the middle of a hot summer, and even though the humidity was making the soot stick to our sweaty necks, making the creases black as night.
"It seems ridiculous now, don't you think?" She glanced at me, the blues in her eyes still managed to capture the sun through the haze. "To want to leave it all behind?" She turned around and took a few steps down the road. "It's almost like it was supposed to happen." Alisha clenched her fists and kept going.
I don't think fate had anything to do with this. It wasn't destiny for me to lose my wife and son, but I had learned by now that this was just her way to have it make sense. She couldn't stand to think that her brother, mother, and father had all disappeared in an instant. Her friends, her future, her life, everything shattered overnight. Just like mine.
Fortunately for her, she wasn't in love, not when the bombs dropped. Fortunately for her, she didn't have a child. Unfortunately for her, she hadn't even barely lived yet. When the announcement came on, that was all she thought about: I still need to live. I need to keep on living, and I just need to go.
That was what I thought. But I thought about my wife too. As soon as she passed, it went back to me. All my survival instincts kicked in and I ran with Alisha by my side. My wife didn't even get a proper burial.
I caught up to her in a few long strides. "It wasn't because you thought about escaping. All of us think about getting out at some point. I used to ask people if they wanted fries with that. That summer, I really wanted a way out." I chuckled.
She gave me a sideways glance and sighed. "I thought about running away so many times. I packed a bag one night. I was so angry when my mom grounded me for going out with Tom. It's so silly. If only she could see me now..." Alisha got a high pitched tone, "'Now, Alisha, what have I told you about hanging out with older men? You know they only want one thing!'" She laughed. I laughed too. I thought so many times how I would have "the talk" with my son. I worried about being a good dad. "Is it true though?" She stopped suddenly and grabbed my arm, "Do you all really only want one thing?"