A Flame’s Best Friend & The Rescuers
The year was 2010, and I was living with my late Grandma and Grandpa Hatcher at the time. They were good people, and I miss them a lot.
My Grandma smoked cigarettes a lot (which I do not agree with now, but did not have issues with at that time), and drove graveyard shift industrial size trucks like 18-wheelers. She was always kind, caring, and generous with me. She worked very hard to get what she had in Oklahoma, and although it wasn’t much, she was mostly happy that I know of.
My Grandpa also smoked a lot, and because of his medical issues he stayed home and didn’t have a paying job (that I know of). He used to take me out to live music in the area, and to dinners with him at the local restaurants when people were performing. He also helped crack me out of my social shell while I was there by getting me involved with some of the small bands and local artists, and performing live for people.
I will never forget that day, though… Filled with the red of flames, the greys and blacks of thick smoke, and the softness that it brought out in the hearts of those who were around at the time.
It was a hot summer day in Valliant, Oklahoma. One of my cousins was living with us at the time and we had built a sort of tree fort just outside the trailer.
I was around 15 years of age, full of life, and naivety…
I had asked my cousin if he wanted to come outside with me to hang out in the fort. I had it set up so that it blocked a lot of view from the trailer, so that I could sneak outside to smoke cigarettes.
I had been into smoking cigarettes since I had run away from my step mom and dad’s house only months before, and had been sneaking them from my grandparents for a week or so at that point (I am not proud of these decisions).
I asked my cousin if he wanted to go hang out in the fort that day. There wasn’t really anything to do but keep fixing it up, and smoke.
So, I sneaked around and took a cigarette from one of Grandpa’s packs, and went outside with my cousin.
We walked over to the tree fort, just hanging out and talking, laughing, playing with sticks.
When we got to the fort, I pulled out the cigarette and lit it.
I inhaled the smoke… It tasted good, and felt calming.
I relaxed a bit, and leaned against one of the walls of the fort.
My cousin was standing there, talking about setting up an ashtray for the fort.
Everything around us was wood and very dry tinder material.
So, we made a make shift ashtray for me to stub it out in, and decided to just throw the stub out in the woods to hide the evidence.
My cousin didn’t smoke cigarettes, and didn’t want to. I offered, but he refused.
I was about halfway through when he got called inside by Grandpa and Grandma.
I stayed outside to finish the cigarette, and upon stubbing it out, threw it out into the forest. As I threw the stub into the forest, though, I noticed it was still burning red in some areas.
So, I ran out to find where it landed and stamped the ground down as much as I could to make sure it was out.
Then, I went back into the trailer.
My cousin was in his room doing whatever, my Grandma was on her computer playing games, and my Grandpa was watching horror/thriller movies on TV, as usual (those were his favorites).
Grandma turned from her chair to look at the movie that was playing on the TV.
“What’s wrong with the window?” she asked.
Everyone turned and looked to the window, which was letting in less light than usual.
I got up and walked to the window and pulled some of the blinds apart to look out, but couldn’t see anything.
It was midday. How was there nothing to see?
That’s when my cousin came running back inside from the porch, telling us that the property was on fire.
Everyone jumped up and ran outside.
I ran outside, my heart racing, skipping beats, my eyes wide with fear.
The fire was everywhere behind the house. It was eating away the forest, the fields, and everything on it. It was inches from reaching the propane tank that fueled the trailer, inches from burning down the trailer itself.
I was horrified.
I felt so guilty…
I ran inside the house and started grabbing water jugs. I didn’t even put my shoes on, because I didn’t care what happened to my feet. I needed to make this right.
It was my fault, I knew it…
I filled the water jugs and ran them outside, ran straight onto the ashen ground, headed for the propane tank.
If that thing blew up, it didn’t really matter what else we did because my family would be dead…
The heat of the embers on the ground burned for less than a second, and I forgot all about it.
I poured the water all around the propane tank, covered the tank itself with it, and ran back to the house.
By this time, there were trucks showing up left and right with built on water tanks, families from all over the town had come to help since we didn’t have a fire station.
There were people everywhere, water buckets, hoses… Everyone was helping.
Everyone was there because of an accident that I recklessly caused…
Because I was being selfish and not thinking things through.
The fire was successfully put out. The house didn’t burn down, the propane tank didn’t blow up, and everyone was safe (except for my poor feet).
After the incident, my Grandparents asked me if I knew what happened to cause the fire…
My cousin protected me and didn’t say anything.
Now, though, I wish I hadn’t lied. I told them I didn’t know what happened. I didn’t want them to blame me and punish me the way my step mom and dad would have.
That day, though, showed me one of the many different ways love can present itself. Through our communities and the people we hold close to us, and in every interaction we have with them, not just the good ones, but the scary ones, too.
© 2017 Savanha Brook