“What is taking so long? Call them again!” Jalie fretted as Eric waved his hose, which he’d hooked to the other neighbor’s hose in an attempt to reach the fire. The stream that straggled through both lengths was as effective as wet linguini.
“The fire station’s a mile away, but it’s been 15 minutes. What is taking so long?” Rowan said in frustration.
“They’re coming from Butler,” said Dashi. “Our fire station closed last year. It was just volunteers anyway.”
“Dad, what did you do?” A woman in her 40s ran across the street in front of the fire truck.
“Ma’am you can’t park there,” Devonte said. While she moved her car, he parked the truck in the big front yard. Within seconds, the team was spraying down the house. Apparently, “Dad” was learning to cook, using Mom’s old recipes.
“The smell of those onions made it seem like she was right there with me in the kitchen.” Had that been the case, she might have told him not to put water on a grease fire. “I miss her so much, and now look what I’ve done.” Seeing the old man cry made Devonte mad. He wasn’t going to let this old man lose any more than he already had.
It didn’t take long. The place was a little soggy and covered in soot, but the man had some beautiful antique furniture, and most of it remained in great shape. Devonte patted him on the shoulder. “Might wanna rebuild your kitchen with a hot tub instead of a stove.”
The old man laughed. “I’ll think about that.”
“Thank you so much! I can’t imagine losing all the things my mom left behind. The bedroom set was their wedding gift, and the dining room table was hand-carved made by my great-grandpa.” She looked at her dad and started to cry. “Just…just thank you. Thank you.” He nodded and headed for the truck. Back to the fire station, out of the smoky uniform and home to Younique. He set his keys into the bowl his dad had made in third grade and ran his hand along the halltree his great-great-uncle had made in the 30s. A deep breath to smooth the lump in his throat, a thank You to the Father, and he climbed the stairs.
Sirens and that heart-jolting horn announced the arrival of the Butler fire brigade. Against all wisdom, Eric and Rowan had gone into the house to grab Rowan’s tablet and Jalie’s purse. The smoke had been caustic and overwhelming, so Eric had shoved him out with no time to get anything else. Now they were twitching and itching and the EMTs had to strap them down. “Looks like you got a meth lab next door,” one of them said to Rowan.
The guys spent the night at the hospital, worried women at their sides. When Eric and Dashi returned home, the street was a crack between parallel realities, their perfect place mirrored by the charred skeleton of their friends’ home. Eric ached for his own bed, but Jalie and Rowan were standing outside talking to the police, so he and Dashi joined them. “They’re telling us we can’t go into our own house,” Jalie said in a shaking, shrill voice. There didn’t seem to be anything left anyway. “They say it’s toxic.” Rowan and Eric looked at each other knowingly.
“Do you want to get some sleep at our house?” Dashi offered. “Come on, you can figure it out after you’ve had some rest.”
Jalie and Rowan sued the town council for closing the fire station. The baby was 6 months old by the time the suit was thrown out.
Come back tomorrow for the conclusion…
I am participating in Compassion International’s “Release 3” project, and I am praying that the 3 children whose packets I have on my desk today will be sponsored by someone who reads my blogs this month. Bryan, Mitiku and little Miss Erich need your friendship and $38 per month, to make it out of extreme, tummy-growling poverty and into adulthood with skills and opportunities instead of wishes. Let me know which child you’d like to sponsor, and I’ll send you the information. Share this with your friends, too.
In case you wonder, I will never take your money or your credit info. I will send you to the Compassion site and provide you with sign-up information for these children. I get nothing but the joy of knowing that I helped a few more children by spreading the word.
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