A Fire on a Summer Day

By Evelyn Burdsall

The day was warm and sunny outside my bedroom window. It was summer, and even though it was ninety degrees outside, I was still on my bed, under one of my blankets. I was reading Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger, which I’ve read so many times that it feels like coming home every time I read it. All the characters and the plot were so familiar that I could enter anywhere in the novel and know instantly what was happening. When I read, I get lost in my imagination so I am gone from the world.

While I was lost to the world, I start to hear a sound in the background but I ignore it. “It’s probably just my dogs barking again or Will’s video getting too loud.” It does sound familiar but I won’t let myself get pulled away from this world quite yet. When I hear it again it is finally clear – it’s my mother and she’s calling me. “Evelyn come down here!” I shut my book, a little irritated that I got pulled away at the best possible spot. I walk out of my room, down the stairs and into the living room where my mom and brother are waiting for me.

“What’s going on?” I ask, starting to get a little worried when I see how anxious their faces are.

“Get something to do for the car,” my mother said before turning and getting her car keys. “We are going to Aunt Kate and Aunt Michelle’s.” I frown. We live forty-five minutes away from their house and we never go unannounced. I ask my mom what happened, but she just said, “I will tell you in the car.”

I run and get my book and Kindle from my room and hop in the car. I turn to my mother, and ask her again, “What happened?”

She looks at me from the corner of her eye, takes a deep breath and replies. “While you were upstairs, we found out that yesterday, Kate and Michelle had a tragedy. They had a fire in their basement.”

I stop, everything just stops. My breathing, my heart, my thoughts except for the one word that runs through my head over and over pounding against my head, “Fire, fire, fire.”  I stare at her, though my eyes see nothing in front of me.

“Is everyone ok?” I choke out even though my chest is clenching my heart as though someone has gone inside and squeezed as hard as they can. I’m not only worried about my aunts, but also their pets – Jackson and Frisco, their dogs, and Jasmine, their cat.

“Yes everyone is fine, Kate and Michelle weren’t home when the fire happened-” mother starts but I cut her off.

“Wait what do you mean that they were not home when the fire happened, how could their house still be possibly standing?” I quietly ask. I know she glanced at me even with my eyes cast down.

“It was an electrical fire, and since they had just replaced a copper water pipe with a plastic one, the pipe melted when the fire was near it and put it out before it reached the gas line,” mother replies.

“So their house is still standing?”

“Yes.”

“Then what is the problem?” I ask, I know I will feel stupid when she gives the answer, but I want to hear what she answers to see if I am right.

“Because of the fire, there was a lot of smoke and ash that rose up through the house. Jasmine, Jackson, and Frisco were inside when it rose throughout the house. They’re all coughing a lot so they will be in the hospital anywhere from three days to five. However, Jasmine was on the side of the house where the fire was, so she will be in the hospital for the next couple of weeks.”

I just stare at her. Though they weren’t completely unharmed, at least everyone will be OK. When we get to the house thirty minutes later the first thing that I do is hug my aunts and my cousins, who are also there. When my dad gets back from work, my aunts, parents, cousins, brother, and I all walk into the house. There is soot and ash everywhere, and the basement wall is completely black. I eventually leave the house because I am crying too hard and can barely walk. After two hours of helping them pack what they wanted to take with them, it was time to go. We all hugged one more time as if to prove to ourselves that everyone is safe.

That was in August, and now my aunts and their pets are safe, warm, and happy in a rental house five houses down. They’re repairing all the damage done by the fire and should be able to move back in sometime in late spring or early summer. Jasmine is totally fine now. She loves to lay beneath a window in their new kitchen, and the dogs are just as crazy as they were before the fire.