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The smoke began to clear

June 2007

The smoke began to clear. The girl looked through the haze, dragging her eyes across the charred fragments of walls and ceiling. Raindrops made quiet sizzling sounds as they hit the still-hot embers of the fire. The girl's gaze locked on a lone door-frame, still standing in the midst of the debris, miraculously unburnt. She began to pick her way towards it, her bunny-rabbit slippers crushing burnt timber into ash, occasionally slipping on a slightly less burnt piece. By the time she reached the doorway her slippers were stained black with soot and ash, but she didn't seem to notice.

Her eyes were glazed, as if she was watching something off in the distance. She ran her hand up and down one side of the frame, and the other, then took a step back and craned her head up towards the lintel, as though trying to read an invisible inscription. She passed a hand through the frame and waved it experimentally, then stepped through, leaving the burnt ruins behind her.