Blazing Residence

April 13, 2011
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I wake to the smell of smoke and I immediately sit up straight. The word fire flashes through my mind and I’m out the door to Caleb’s room in a minute, begging for the fire to not have spread there yet. I fling the door open and find him in bed, completely unaware of what’s going on. I dash over to his bed and start to rouse him.
“Caleb, wake up,” I say in my most calm voice even though my heart is probably going 150 beats per minute.
“What?” he groans as he stirs and his eyes slowly flutter open showing me his brown eyes.
“Caleb honey, we have to get Jesse and get out of here. There’s a fire,” I tell him bringing him into my arms.
As soon as he is positioned in my arms, I run as fast as I can to Jesse’s room and start pounding on the door like a lunatic, all the while yelling from the top of my lungs:
“Jesse, wake up!”
A few minutes later, Jesse appears, somewhat aware of what’s happening.
“Jesse, we need to find a way out,” I state as my eyes dart around the room.
To my dismay, the flames had already engulfed the staircases and were heading toward us at an alarming rate. All of a sudden, Jesse grabs me by my arm and shoves me into his room; it takes all my will power to not drop Caleb. He then shuts the door and stuffs his blanket in the gap under the door so the smoke wouldn’t be able to come through—or at least not yet.
“What now?!” I question starting to panic and hugging Caleb tighter for support.
He squirms in my arms and I loosen my grip, not wanting to hurt him. Jesse is calm throughout it all and looks around the room. Suddenly, he runs over to the window, thrusts the curtains aside and start to pull the ledge of the window up.
“It won’t budge!” he yells in frustration.
I quickly put Caleb onto Jesse’s bed and run over to help him. “Please let it open,” I prayed pulling on the ledge with all my might. Just when I’m about to call it quits, the window finally opens letting in a blast of cool air that I quickly inhale through my nose.
“Mom, you see that tree over there?” Jesse asks pointing it out.
I squint into the darkness outside and reply,
“The one with the huge branches?”
“Yeah,” Jesse replies. “Now you see the fat branch closest to us, grab onto a branch above it and try to get your feet onto the fat branch. Then start to climb down.”
“But won’t it snap under my weight?” I ask not believing it would hold me.
“No, I’ve done it millions of times before,” he admits.
“You what?!” I yell jumping into a lecture and forgetting for just a few seconds that we’re in a burning house. “Young man, you should know better of yourself. What if you had gotten hur-”

“Mom, can we talk about this later,” he interrupts while rolling his eyes. “Now hurry up or we’ll all get fried!”

“You go first,” I state and am practically propelled out the window by Jesse.

“Caleb’s going to be right behind you,” he shouts at me while I try to not fall head first into the grass.

After almost getting face planted into the earth twice, I finally make it to the ground.

“When this is all over, that boy is grounded for life,” I mutter to myself raising my head up to the window and waiting for Caleb to appear.

Seconds pass and then minutes, but Caleb doesn’t appear and neither does Jesse.

“Jesse?!” I shout at the window getting anxious.

Jesse’s head finally appears out of the window and I exhale the breath I had unconsciously been holding in.

“Mom, I can’t find Caleb! I’ll be right back” he says and his head disappears before I get the chance to protest against it.

By now the fire alarm is blaring from inside the house and I could hear the fire truck’s siren a few blocks away. “Oh God, please let those two be okay,” I silently prayed. After what felt like a decade, Caleb’s tear streaked face pops out of the window.

“Caleb, what’s wrong?!” I immediately question expecting the worst when Jesse doesn’t appear behind him.

“Forget Bluebell, Jesse try getting Bluebell, and he—, he—,” Caleb manages to get out before bursting into tears.

My body is suddenly disconnected from my brain and I find myself climbing the tree—that I nearly died from—and back up to the window.

“Jesse get Bluebell and he, he, he…”Caleb trails off, unable to finish his sentence.

My mind is a frozen block of ice and when I talk; my voice is in monotone.

“The house is on fire and you can’t be in there. Caleb, I want you to take hold of my hand,” I say stretching out my left hand.

Caleb looks up at me with frightened eyes and then I see it, Bluebell, the teddy bear Austin had bought him before he died, it’s tightly held in Caleb’s arm. I watch as Caleb holds out his right arm for me and I take it, but my eyes never stray from the teddy bear. “Jesse, Bluebell,” I repeat in my head as Caleb and I make the climb back to the ground. When we both are safely on the lawn, Jesse has still not appeared. Minutes later, I feel a tug on my leg and I finally look away from the house and down at Caleb.

“Mommy, Jesse get Bluebell and he—he dead,” Caleb manages to get out as his eyes start to water and a new round of tears overcome him.

I don’t try to comfort Caleb and just let him cry, turning my attention back to the house that Austin and I had bought a few weeks after we married. Slowly, memories of Jesse and Austin start to surface in my head and I let them come, even though each one makes me feel like I just got stabbed in the heart. I’m taken by surprise when a Fireman taps me on the shoulder and tells me,

“It’s going to be okay; we got it all under control.”

“No, it’s won’t,” I reply staring up at the window and wishing Jesse would take full responsibility on his promise of coming back after getting Caleb, but it was impossible, Jesse was dead.
And as that finally settle in my brain, my body starts to shake, I start to hyperventilate, and my body crumbles to the ground.

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