I have been trying to think of a way to say thank you. I view each of you as someone on this journey with me, and on days when I doubt myself I remember that there are actual people, the vast majority of whom I have never met, who are cheering me on. You will never know how much that means to me! The only way I know to say thank you is to give you a piece of Through the Ashes before everyone else gets it. So, I will not be releasing this anywhere on social media until the 31st. It is your gift so if you would like to share go right ahead, it is totally your choice. I sincerely hope you enjoy Through the Ashes. It was a lot of fun to write and I hope that comes through when you are reading it.

And now….The Prologue

Sage’s Journal

The Day Before Thanksgiving

I always knew every guy who crossed Sara’s path instantly became more important than me, but now it’s Bria and Blaise too. What am I supposed to do? How many times am I supposed to let her in just so she can hurt me? I can’t keep doing this. I know we’re sisters and I love her, but I deserve respect. Mom does too. Going to Florida for Thanksgiving and not coming home. That’s too much, even for her. It’s always one thing after the other with her. I’m done with her, so done.

 Thanksgiving

I’m trying, I really am. Mom deserves a good Thanksgiving, but first Sara abandoned us and now the power is out. Sara is probably in Florida, eating at some fancy restaurant that Bria’s dad is paying for, and I’m stuck here with uncooked food. It’s really not fair. It never is.

 Night of Thanksgiving

Something is wrong, really wrong. The power is still not on. No one’s phone works. Mom knew, but didn’t tell me. She said I can’t leave the apartment. She pushed the couch in front of the door, and said we have enough food for two weeks if we ration it. I told her she was crazy and came in here. But sitting here, I hear the gunshots. They’re everywhere, and there are no sirens—not one. The light is starting to fade. It’s getting cold.

 Black Friday

The building across the street burned down last night. Mom and I watched from the window. I wanted to go help, but she wouldn’t let me. I started to scream at her. She covered my mouth. She said our only hope was to stay in the apartment, unnoticed, as long as we could. There was something about her eyes, Sara. Something I haven’t seen since she was trying to protect us from Dad. I stopped screaming and she let go.

 Where are you? What is this? I hope you’re okay. I love you. You know that, right? We’re sisters and nothing can ever change that.

 Saturday

It’s freezing. Mom and I slept in her bed last night. My body was shaking so bad I couldn’t sleep. Mom wrapped her arms around me like I was a little kid. I thought of you, how you used to hold me like that when we lived in hell with Dad. I would cry and you would sing soft enough so he couldn’t hear. Do you remember that? I’m sorry I didn’t understand your need to escape the memories. I get that now. I forgive you.

There’s snow on the ground. It’s covering the bodies. T’Asia and her baby are dead. They got burned. Someone shot them. I think it was to be nice, like they were dogs or horses or something, and someone was putting them out of their misery.

 I feel like I’m breaking or going numb or both. You know I’m not the strong one. I wish I hadn’t seen that baby lying in the street. I’m glad the snow covered them. It’s like it buried them … and all the others. I’m glad you’re not here. I’m glad you don’t have to see this. I hope you’re safe. Don’t come back here, Sara. I pray you can hear me and you survive this. Mom’s right: our only hope is to go unnoticed as long as we can. No matter what you do, don’t come back! Please hear me, somehow hear me. Don’t come for us. Never come for us!