The Fire Escape

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“C’mon let’s go!” I exclaim as I shut the door quietly behind us. I turn the knob slowly so when the door latches my mom won’t hear it.

“Ok, hurry, take out the screen now,” my brother orders.

I unhook the screen one little prong at a time. Good thing there are only four. I set it gently against the bright lime green walls of my room. We gaze out the window-- or as we refer to it, the “fire exit.” We could see everything in our backyard from here; the cherry tree that all the birds pick at, the big wooden play toy with the bright yellow slide, and the dirt road that runs past my house. Beneath the white paned window, a ledge protrudes from the grayish blue bricks, only big enough for our size four and smaller shoes to fit on. Being only ten years old, it was the perfect size ledge for me. The laundry room outlet gives off the clean linen aroma. Standing on the ledge as the warm musty smell seeps into our nostrils, we prepare ourselves for the journey we are about to embark on.

“Just go,” my brother blurts out.

“But I’m scared. What if I fall?” I reply.

“You big wimp. You won’t fall. Move out of my way then. I’ll go!” he demands.
He sticks one leg out of the window and straddles it.

“No wait!” I yell fast as I begin to schooch my way slowly towards the deck. The texture of the bricks grabs a hold of my pink lacey spandex shorts and snag with every move I make. My delicate arms and legs are being scratched as I suction myself close to the wall. My brother just now decides to show me how much of a pro he is and with his speedy little feet, he catches up to me in no time.

“If you don’t hurry, I’m going to push you!” he threatens. I look down. I would surly fall to my death. There were all those big pokey rocks beneath me, not to mention it’s a whole five feet to fall.

“I have to speed up,” I whisper to myself, “I have no choice.” I start moving as fast as I possibly can.

“You’re such a slow poke,” he complains.

“Hey guys, whatcha’ doin?” my little sister yells as she pokes her head out of the window.

“Nothing that you’re old enough to do,” my brother says.

“Aw, c’mon guys. I’m seven!” she replies.

“Well, I guess she does need to practice the fire escape in case we ever have a fire,” my brother answers. I look at him and nod in agreement.

“Thanks!” she exclaims. She swings her legs out of the window and carefully steadies herself on the ledge.

“Whatever you do…don’t look down Miranda!” I warn. I know that after I say that she will, but I say it anyway.

“Wow, that’s a long way down!” she nervously says as she leans forward. I look down to her and smile. I wonder if she’ll chicken out. The three of us are standing there with our backs and hands completely against the side of the house. We begin to all inch our way down, one step at a time. Starting at the window and looking at our goal, the deck.

“Mom will be so proud of us,” I say, “We’ll definitely have to show her.”

“Good idea. Now would you move faster?” says my brother. Finally, after minutes of anticipation we make it to our destination.

“Let’s do it again!” my brother suggests. We smile at each other, go back inside, and do it all over.
*****
Seven years later, I stand in my backyard looking up at the very window we called our “escape”. I can’t believe how little we must have been to actually be able to even stand on that ledge let alone inch our way fifteen feet to the deck. I just remember the very first time we ever attempted it, and how we became addicted to the adrenaline rush. It seems so juvenile that we actually found practicing our fire escape to be entertaining. As kids, we used to be so easily entertained finding excitement in the simplest things, the piles of leaves we’d rake up became forts, trash we’d find in the ditch became costumes, and our animals became savage beasts trying to hunt us down for food.
As a 17 year old, I can’t even imagine having fun by just pretending. How we came up with the story lines I don’t even know. We’d make up the wildest things and act them out. No longer am I the tiny little blonde stick that could easily be snapped in two. No longer am I the creative little girl who had so much fun playing house, and playing “pretend.” I am now a senior in high school getting ready to go out into the real world on my own.





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