Haunted
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The drive home was done on automatic. Lights blurred past as landmarks marked silent time, the radio a background hum to my chaotic thoughts; the night an insulating blanket against the world.

I turned onto my street, my mind already five steps ahead and making up Kendell’s lunch for the next school day. It took a moment for the flashing lights and scurrying of traffic on my road to dig through the layers of exhaustion. As awareness shook the sleep from its eyes, I still didn’t register the activity as having anything to do with me. I was busy, busy with my own personal tragedy, these lights were not mine.

Yet as I drove closer, my house yet not in view… I knew. I knew the way you know your own thoughts; I knew deep in my entrails and down to my soul.
I could feel my heart pounding its way up my throat as my stomach nose dived down into my toes. I pulled the car over without thinking and tugged a sleeping Kendell into my arms. I left my car running, my purse inside. I walked the block to my home as if through water.

I made it past four emergency response vehicles, over two fire hoses, and past several firefighters before someone caught a hold of me. It was December 18th, the night was beautiful in its cold winter starkness, the stars a vast hopscotch path against the blanket of black cloudless sky. I had let Buddy outside, just a pup at three months, to enjoy that crisp December night while I was at the hospital with my mom.

People were talking to me, the frigid air biting at my exposed arms, and Kendell began to cry, yet none of these things seemed to register. I saw only the house. God could not be this cruel, this was not real.

“Mam”.
Mam! You can’t go in there!”

I turned to the voice, why was this man yelling at me? “I live here”, Floated out my lips, though I don’t recall making any effort to answer him. “Where’s our dog? “We have a dog, he’s big, but he’s just a puppy.” “Buddy!” I yelled, looking around absently, in no real hurry.

“You’re scaring the boy. You can’t go in there.” I looked at his hand, a gentle restraint on my arm. Didn’t they know that I had enough to deal with? This fire must belong to someone else.

The world rushed back with an audible pop and for the first time I smelled the smoke, felt the bite of the winters wind and the noise of rushing firemen shouting out orders assaulted my ears with such sudden clarity, I winced from the pain of it.

I turned away from the house, stumbled out to the street again and into the fire chief who took me to our neighbors. The night remained pregnant inside me, emotions for the moment swallowed up like the pictures on the walls of our home, buried beneath layers of smoke and debris.

I don’t think of that night much. To many “what ifs” haunt me when I do. I think from time to time I’m over that night, moved on the way I moved my family. Packed what was left in small boxes and bags and put away those things that were not comfortable to look at anymore.

I thought it was behind me till I drove down the road to our home this week and saw flashing red lights. My heart climbed the wall of my chest and threatened to burst out between my lips. My arms and legs started to tremble, ache, and the heat of a fire from three years ago rushed to my face and enflamed my nerve endings. I drew closer and the large vehicle finally registered to my brain as I watched the garbage truck empty our trash and drive away.

Some ghosts don’t haunt you daily, they lie in wait.






6 Comments:
Anonymous Anonymous had this to say:

Interesting thoughts. Did you see the truck crush your trash as you watched?

10:12 AM, October 31, 2007 

Blogger Carrie had this to say:

I get sad when I hear about this time in your life. Things are getting better. Just be glad that you aren't reliving that time in your life.

10:13 AM, October 31, 2007 

Anonymous June had this to say:

Your story was gripping...I kept hoping it would end with your saying it was a piece of fiction...a new short story you were writing...but no. I'm so sorry that you lived that horror.

12:57 PM, October 31, 2007 

Blogger Susan Helene Gottfried had this to say:

Yowch. That's got to be one of my worst fears, and you nailed all my fears. Worst of all, you've lived it.

All the best --

1:14 PM, October 31, 2007 

Blogger Warwick Circle had this to say:

Like the prior comment, I was hoping it would end as a fictional short story.

6:34 AM, November 02, 2007 

Blogger *~*Cece*~* had this to say:

That has to be such a scary feeling.

9:36 AM, November 05, 2007 

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