I have been carrying this story in my heart for the past six years, and I decided last night to put it on paper.
House on Fire
by Joy Pedersen
My baby girl was born in a burning house.
The flames were small at first. It was burning slowly – behind the walls, under the ground, in the attic.
But eventually, the walls began to crumbled, the windows cracked, and the panes blew out.
The fire engines came, and I turned them away. “You must leave,” they said.
“We’re fine, “ I replied while the shingles fell from the roof around me.
My friends shouted from outside, “Get out! Save yourself!” But I continued to live there.
I continued to live in the windowless, roofless house with cracked windows and crumbling walls.
The floorboards glowed with fiery embers. But I learned to tiptoe to avoid being burned.
Smoke filled the air. But I learned to take shallow breaths.
“It’s not that hot,” I told myself.
The flames became unpredictable. I came home to find rooms burned, furniture ruined, another part of the house damaged.
The heat was unbearable at night. As the sun set, the temperature rose. By dark the house was steaming.
On one of these hot nights, when she was four years old, my daughter woke me up. She touched me in my sleep, and said, “Mommy, the house is on fire.” I opened my eyes and looked around. The fire was everywhere. The flames were white hot. The smoke was thick. My skin was burning. My eyes were stinging.
I looked down at my beautiful little girl. She was so calm, so brave, so full of life. And I said, “You’re right. It’s time to leave.”
I picked her up. I walked out the door. And I never looked back.
That night, everything burned. The house was destroyed. But we were saved.