Please note: This is only a short story, so there won't be any chapters. I've tried to make it correspond to the actual scene in The City of Ember (the end of chapter 17), but there are some adjustments. Enjoy! :


Gaze into a fire, and what do you see? A jumbled, frantic mass of reds, whites and oranges. But look closer. Sparks leap this way and that, frantically attempting to escape the inferno.

The tiny flame flickering before me gives off no air or urgency, however. It lazily rests upon my candle as Lina and I make our way through the crowded boat cavern. My heart pounds as Lina looks at me and nods. Lina places her toddler sister, Poppy, on the ground, instructing her to "stay right there." Not even Poppy's wails are enough to distract us from the task at hand.

I drip a small pool of wax on the stony, damp ground, and place the candle upon it. It stays upright, its glow persistent. I take courage from the small flame, for if it can persevere, then so can I. As Lina and I drag a boat toward the dark, thrashing river, I cast aside thoughts of my father, of my home, of the familiar apartment that I will never see again.

The City of Ember is, in a way, like the candle. It is the only light in a dark world, but neither the candle's flame nor the city can last forever. Frustration prickles through me as I wish that the people of Ember would do something about their pitiful situation. It's unnerving to think that Lina, Poppy and I may be the only ones to escape the dying city.

I return from my reminiscing to find that the boat is now tethered to the rock and ready to be lowered into the hungry waters. My heart pounds faster and harder as a small inkling of terror burns in my chest. "Now," I say against the roar of the torrent, "we put the boat in the water."

But then Poppy wails, and Lina dashes back to her, picking her up and leaving me in the darkness, with only the candle to cast light through the cavern. When she returns, her voice gently soothing Poppy, I am relieved. She is the adventurous one, the bold one, the one that takes risks. I am the mechanic. My tools are logic and reason, and she gives me the ability to be daring. I give her the rationalization to make attempts. Together, we have defied many obstacles.

This, however, is by far the greatest challenge we have ever been met with. It is not a physical challenge, but a mental one, for as the boat is lowered into the water, I know that this choice cannot be reversed. Lina hands her sister to me and enters the boat first, unsteady for a moment before finding her balance. I gently, carefully hand Poppy to her, and step forward myself.

The candle flickers as my courage wavers. Can I do this? Can I leave behind everything?

But no, I will not be abandoning everything. I still have Lina, Poppy, myself, and above all, hope. I have opportunity. My heart pounds, breath uneven as I attempt to find the nerve to take it.

I glance back, and the candle still shines brightly against the strong black darkness. As I look, a single spark leaps from the flame. It plunges alone, and yet it is the only fire to escape the rigid wax tower, a brave ember willing to take initiative and escape the dying candle.

I catch my breath—turn toward the boat—imagine the future—visualize the ember— take a chance—