• The wind whispered over the meadow and around the small, gray cottage, making the tall grass dance and rock like snakes to their charmer. Zoë pressed her hand to the mould encrusted window of the dark cottage, eyes closed, her tip toes against the hard wooden chair, trying to imagine the wind tickling her fingertips, swirling her hair, caressing her face…

    “Zoë Aditi Smith! Get down at once!”
    She was wrenched from her position, landing in the arms of her matrons, their arms criss -crossing around her like the scars that covered her throat and face. She was set down on her shadowed bed, her mouth open in protest, but as usual no sound could come out any more.
    Zoë tried to reach out in a silent complaint, to stretch into the gloom, but she didn’t have the strength. Everything was so hard now.

    Zoë stared sullenly at the pitiful fire that burned weakly in the thick metal box. It flames gave off virtually no heat or light, for it was caged in its cold prison, the walls so close together, stopping it from breathing.
    No freedom…

    The last matron nodded off promptly, betraying her actions with only a small thump as her chin struck her chest. Zoë crawled towards the end of her bed, heart thumping like a stampede of deer, and rolled off it.
    She hit the cold, stone floor heavily, not having the strength to stop herself, and immediately she felt fatigue creep up on her. With only minimal sounds, she wriggled towards the fireplace.

    A blast of light and warmth engulfed Zoë as she opened the door. The darkness retreated from the room as the fire was allowed to breathe. She moved closer to it, and it curled protectively over her, portraying a mother with her child.
    Smiling, Zoë faced the fire, and mouthed the words:
    Follow me…to freedom…

    The writhing flames devoured the old building like it was a starving man before a great banquet. It ate faster than its inhabitants could react, and Zoë laughed as it consumed her prison, the light illuminating her ecstatic face. Newfound strength coursed through her limbs as she danced before the fire, the grass in the meadow mimicking the swaying movements behind her.
    She leapt for joy as the wind gushed over her skin, fueling both her joyous motions and the fires thirst.
    It was better than she could have ever imagined.