Up In Flames

January 12, 2012
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My mind was anywhere but the present. Lost in daydreams, I drove down Thomas Street, thinking about school, summer, and prom. It was a beautiful, unsuspicious day. The two-minute drive from school to my street was suddenly interrupted when I couldn’t turn left; a squad car and dozens of fire engines blocked my way and my view of everything down my street.
How did I miss it? I didn’t hear a thing! The sirens weren’t on. My music was kind of loud. I tried to rationalize as panic surged through my veins. Fire! Is it my house? I can’t see it! I have to go or I’ll block traffic.
I rerouted down the next side street, behind one curious car and followed by two others. South Parkway ended almost right in front of my front yard, so it was an easy, natural shortcut. Forced to stop three blocks down, there is no measure of speed for how fast I threw my car in park, ripped the keys out of the ignition, snatched my backpack, and sprinted down the street with my backpack pounding against my back and butt. Thump-thump-thump-thump-thump.
I was wearing flip-flops. It’s hard to run in flip-flops. My heart leapt to my mouth, and my brain was fuzzy mush. I heard my name somewhere behind me, but there was no stopping me. My breath came in short, ragged gasps. Heads turned to gawk at the girl in a frenzied sprint, but I didn’t care.
My house is on fire. My house is on fire.
I could see the tip of my roof on the left side— gloriously unblemished, but I didn’t dare get my hopes up. I had to zigzag through crowds of onlookers before I finally stopped on the lawn of the neighbor-across-the-street. What looked like an army of firefighters in yellow and black, bulky jackets and helmets swarmed around my neighbor’s house, a network of organized yet still-chaotic men beating down bursts of flame in the upper floor and garage.
“Cory!” my mom’s shriek reached my ears, and I numbly faced her. I don’t know what I felt. Relief, horror, joy… it didn’t matter.
“I-I- I thought it was ours!” my voice broke on the last word, and tears streamed down my face, freed at last from the suspension my body was in.
I clutched her to me; I was a seventeen-year-old, bawling like a baby, hugging her mother in public. She led me to my dad and brother standing on the glorious cool green grass of our yard, watching in dazed speechlessness as firefighters from twelve districts battled the fire raging next door.





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