The Fire

November 2, 2017
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My eyes became tired; each lid felt like a ton of bricks. My lids quivered and I could not bear to hold the weight anymore. I drifted off to sleep, my glasses perched on my face, and my body sprawled carelessly across the couch. My mom would be furious--I am not aloud to sleep on the immaculate, baby blue couch. However, I was no longer there when she woke up.


Just seconds after drifting into a peaceful rest, a siren as sharp as knife instantly woke me up from my daze. I shot up, tense and alert, as the harsh sound reverberated in an endless spiral, my ears about to bleed. It felt as if 10,000 crows were circling inches above my head, all shrieking at once. My eyes darted around as I looked for the source of the noise. As I glanced in the kitchen,  I saw the concerned look on my brother’s face. “Why is the alarm going off? Did someone break in?” he yelled over the shriek while covering his ears. “ I have no clue. Where is everyone?” I screamed back. Without another word, we both bolted to my mom’s room and pounded our fists against the splintered wood door. She opened the door with a weary expression unsure of what was happening, my step dad, Mike, stood behind her like a shadow. Then a wave of clarity washed over her and the noise started to ring in her ears. “Mike! Wake Marisa up!” she yelled.


I ran to the kitchen and ripped my phone from the charger; my fingers shook as I dialed 911. “911, what’s your emergency?” the operator said in a calm voice. How could they be so calm at a time like this? My arms started to shake and my words were stuck in my throat. I snapped back to reality after a brief moment of panic, the painful noise of the alarm the only constant of my surroundings. “Hi, ummm my, my chimney is on fire!” I proclaimed full of nerve and emotion. “Okay, what is your address?” the monotone operator replied. Her lack of urgency irked me and I clenched my fists. “27 FRANKLIN STREET,” I declared forcefully. “Okay, we are on our way.” At that we hung up simultaneously. Our fireplace smoked profusely and my lungs were immersed in smoke; it felt like I was swimming but in a thick, black cloud. The smell stung my nostrils and drifted to my brain.


“Grab as many valuables as you can,” my step-dad yelled. The little voice inside my head told me to leave the house, but I shoved it aside and knew I had time to help. The house was not in flames, but my the chimney was, one billowing mass of smoke after enough escaped into the night sky. The house could ignite at any second; chimney fires took many homes as their victims, devouring them whole, like a snake swallowing its prey.
I sprinted down the stairs,  grabbed all of the laptops, and without a second of hesitation I opened the front door and set them on the cold pavement. The cool September night taunted me with its perfection, begging me to stay, boasting a subtle breeze and a cloudless sky. As tempting as it was, I could not give in. “Find the passports! I’m looking for the house title!” my mom wailed. My brother grabbed all the paperwork and passports he could find as I shuttled more valuables out of the house. After a minute of complete pandamonium, we all safely left the house and waited outside. A parade of fire trucks roared down my street. A chorus of dogs barked and all of my neighbors gathered outside to see what was going on. The firefighters climbed onto the roof and dowsed the flames. Everyone returned to their homes safe and sound, and I was able to go back to sleep once my nerves calmed down.


The whole thing felt surreal, like we were all in a strange dream. We were zombies marching through the house, our emotions were blocked out because we knew it was an emergency. Nothing mattered in the entire universe besides that exact fraction of a second in time. We were in our own world, full of chaos, mute to any other occurrence. We are all lucky we were unharmed and the firefighters responded before the house was damaged. But, this event put emergencies in perspective for me. Life is full of stress, every moment scheduled to the maximum, not a second to spare, yet there are instances, hopefully rare, that an emergency makes time stand still. Whether it is a death, an accident, or a fire, that crisis seems to be the only thing in existence, enveloping its surroundings, taking up all of the space in the universe.






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