A Hero

October 10, 2011
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The red flames enveloped the small house, reaching to devour the night sky. A young child’s cry of fear ripped through the air, stabbing the heart of Eric Lampson. Eric, a man of 23, ran into the burning house. His vision was slightly obscured by his fireman visor and the heavy weight of his suit bore down on his shoulders. He shook off the thought of his own discomfort, thinking only of the child. Fear gripped him. What if he reached her too late? He could see her small body, crumpled on the floor of her scorched bedroom; her face outlined in pain, fear, and lost hope. Her fragile frame being swallowed by the flames… No! He must keep his mind focused. The paralyzing fear ebbed away, leaving reason. He listened again for a cry. No sound reached his ears. Eric ran to the kitchen looking for the little girl. No one was there. He then looked in the living room. Not a soul. The panic slowly started coming up again, but he chose not to acknowledge its presence. He checked her bedroom. The walls, once papered with a light-pink flower pattern, stood scorched black and brown, with only a small pink patch left alive, the rest having been consumed by fire. His eyes swiftly scanned the room. Where was she? Nothing was in the room except for the small bed and a desk. The rest had been gobbled up by the red-roaring monster. Eric spun around and sprinted towards the master bed room. Maybe the child got so scared she went for her parents in their room, seeking comfort. The door seemed barred shut. Pulling out his axe he started chopping at the wood frantically. The fear he was holding back for so long came up in full blast. Choking back sobs he finally broke through the door. There, on the bed was a figure lying as if asleep. Despair weighted down his heart. He could barely lift up his feet. The hungry fire had already enveloped the frame of the bed. If he didn't hurry, she could be consumed too. Finally picking up his courage he threw up a desperate prayer as he ran to the bed. There she laid, her brown hair encircling her small heart-shaped face. Her hazel eyes were closed, tears still evident on her pale cheeks. Eric uttered a cry, darkness closing in on him. He was too late. Suddenly he noticed her lips moving slightly. She was so focused on her prayers for help that she didn’t notice the fireman standing above her! Eric stood amazed and overjoyed. The darkness that had been eating him like fire lifted. She opened her eyes. Eric lifted her up over his shoulders and ran through the remnants of the house. Out in the fresh air he placed her on the grass. She looked up at him while he looked down at her. Neither of them noticed the lights, sounds, or the girl’s family around them. She smiled. Eric’s heart was squeezed tight with emotion. He went down to her level on his knees. Her eyes glistened and her mouth parted as if to say something, but before words could come, her mother suddenly scooped her up in a smothering hug. The mother’s many words of thanks were lost on the fireman’s ears. He wanted only to hear the voice of the girl, the one whose life had almost been lost. She smiled at him again and he held his breath. She walked away. Though she never spoke verbally, her eyes said it all.
“You are my hero.”

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